Telemedicine is the use of medical information shared from one site to another using electronic communications to improve patient’s clinical health status.
The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) also includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smartphones, wireless tools, and other forms of telecommunications technology under the telemedicine umbrella. Patient consultations via video conferencing, transmission of still images, e-health (including patient portals), remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education, consumer-focused wireless applications, and nursing call centers, among other applications, are all considered part of telemedicine and telehealth.
The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) says, “Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery.”
According to the CCHP, there are four categories for telehealth use today.
1. Live video-conferencing
Also known as synchronous video, live video-conferencing is a live, two-way interaction between a person and a healthcare provider using audiovisual telecommunications technology. This kind of telehealth is often used to treat common illnesses, to determine if a patient should proceed to an emergency room, or to provide psychotherapy sessions.
2. Store-and-forward or asynchronous video
Store-and-forward is the transmission of recorded health history through an electronic communications system to a healthcare provider who uses the information to treat the patient outside of real time. This method is often used in rural areas between a primary care practitioner or nurse practitioner who would like to consult with a specialist in another location.
3. Remote patient monitoring (RPM)
RPM is the collection of personal health and medical data from a patient or resident in one location that is then transferred electronically to a nurse, caregiver, or physician in a different location for monitoring purposes. RPM is already being used to a great extent in senior living in order to prevent falls and monitor the vital health statistics of residents.
4. Mobile health or mHealth
mHealth uses mobile communications devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, and hundreds of software applications for these devices, which can do almost anything imagined for supporting healthcare. Examples of healthcare apps and how valuable they are for senior care will be discussed later in this eBook.