In the world in we live, where communication is becoming further removed from face to face interaction, medicine is utilizing telecommunications technologies to advance treatment and care for patients.
Telehealth (a newer term to me!) is described as focusing on a broad range of interactions with the patient whether it is treatment, diagnostic or preventative by using telecommunication technologies to interaction with the patient. Telehealth can be done in real time, for example during robotic surgeries. Or it can be used for non-real-time purposes such as videos for training medical practitioners. Whatever the circumstance may be, telehealth opens the door to broadening the communication channels of the medical world. It allows for global medical interaction and collaboration.
So what are the positives and negatives of telehealth?
I believe a benefit to utilizing telehealth is that it breaks down location barriers. With telehealth an expert doctors can advise a patient who is thousands of miles away almost instantaneously.
Telehealth means a wider distribution of training materials and training sessions in the form of videos or webinars.
Remote patient monitoring through telecommunications can also mean a single nurse practitioner or doctor could see more patients in a day because there is no travel time between seeing patients.
Negatives to telehealth? There's no face-to-face interaction! People want to feel cared for, they want a real human being listening and looking at their problems. With telehealth people will only be able to see what is right in front of them, they might not notice other complications or problems outside of the captured picture.
Is telehealth a good thing or a bad thing? You'll have to decide for yourself, but personally I am excited to see how far medicine will go because of it!
--Jillian F. Walker