Personal tools

Interested in disability history? Check out what happened Today in AT History!


From ATWiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. Telehealth delivery could be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over the telephone, or as sophisticated as using videoconferencing between providers at facilities in two countries, or even as complex as robotic technology.

Telehealth is an expansion of telemedicine, and unlike telemedicine (which more narrowly focuses on the curative aspect) it encompasses preventive, promotive and curative aspects.


Uses of telehealth technologies

Clinical uses

  • Transmission of medical images for diagnosis (often referred to as store and forward telehealth)
  • Groups or individuals exchanging health services or education live via videoconference (real-time telehealth)
  • Transmission of medical data for diagnosis or disease management (sometimes referred to as remote monitoring)
  • Advice on prevention of diseases and promotion of good health by patient monitoring and followup.
  • Health advice by telephone in emergent cases (referred to as teletriage)

Nonclinical uses

  • Distance education including continuing medical education, grand rounds, and patient education
  • Administrative uses including meetings among telehealth networks, supervision, and presentations
  • Research on telehealth
  • Online information and health data management
  • Healthcare system integration
  • Asset identification, listing, and patient to asset matching, and movement
  • Overall healthcare system management
  • Patient movement and remote admission

Forms of telehealth

Store-and-forward telehealth

In store-and-forward telehealth, digital images, video, audio, Observations of Daily Living (ODLs)[1] , and clinical data are captured and "stored" on the client computer or mobile device; then at a convenient time transmitted securely ("forwarded") to a clinic at another location where they are studied by relevant specialists. The opinion of the specialist is then transmitted back. Based on the requirements of the participating healthcare entities, this roundtrip could take between 1 minute to 48 hours. In the simplest form of Telehealth application, basic vital signs like Blood Pressure, Weight, Pulse Oximeter, Blood Sugar values are monitored and trended for long term Chronic care. In many store-and-forward specialties, such as dermatology, radiology and pathology an immediate response is not critical and are conducive to store-and-forward technologies. Automated screening and diagnostic tele-audiology is fast becoming another specialty conductive to store-and-forward audiology.

Real-time telehealth

In real-time telehealth, a telecommunications link allows instantaneous interaction. Videoconferencing equipment is one of the most common forms of synchronous telemedicine. Peripheral devices can also be attached to computers or the video-conferencing equipment which can aid in an interactive examination. With the availability of better and cheaper communication channels, direct two-way audio and video streaming between centers through computers is leading to lower costs.

In an effort to enhance the real-time telehealth experience, Google Health, a personal health information centralization service, recently began establishing relationships with telehealth providers that will allow their users to sync the data shared during telehealth consultations with their online health records. To date, partnerships have been formed with the following companies: MDLiveCare and Hello Health.[2]

Remote patient monitoring

In remote monitoring, sensors are used to capture and transmit biometric data. For example, a tele-EEG device monitors the electrical activity of a patients brain and then transmits that data to a specialist. This could be done in either real time or the data could be stored and then forwarded.

Examples of remote monitoring include:

  • Home-based nocturnal dialysis [3]
  • Heart disease|Cardiac and multi-parameter monitoring of remote ICUs
  • Home telehealth
  • Disease management

Benefits of telehealth

Telehealth adds a new paradigm in healthcare, where the patient is monitored between physician office visits. This has been shown to significantly reduce hopsitalizations and visits to the Emergency Room, while improving patient's quality of life. Telehealth also benefits patients where traditional delivery of health services are affected by distance and lack of local specialist clinicians to deliver services.

The rate of adoption of telehealth services in any jurisdiction is frequently influenced by factors such as the adequacy and cost of existing conventional health services in meeting patient needs; the policies of governments and/or insurers with respect to coverage and payment for telehealth services; and medical licensing requirements that may inhibit or deter the provision of telehealth second opinions or primary consultations by physicians.

There may also be some significant carbon reductions for the NHS to be gained from developing Telehealth and therefore reducing the need to travel (often, in the case of patients, by car) as well as encouraging healthy, sustainable behaviour through monitoring and improved communications and reducing the requirements to expand sites to meet increases in Healthcare demands.

The state of the market

Projections for the growth of the telehealth market are optimistic, and much of this optimism is predicated upon the increasing demand for remote medical care. According to a recent survey, nearly three-fourths of U.S. consumers say they would use telehealth.[4] At present, several major companies are scrambling to establish a foothold in a market that, according to market-research firm Datamonitor, is expected to grow to more than $6 billion by 2012 from 900 million in 2007.[5]


  1. Health in Everyday Living Robert Wood Johnson Foundation primer.
    • {{{last}}}, {{{first}}} and {{{coauthors}}}. update on Google Health. {{{date}}}. {{{work}}}. {{{publisher}}}. Accessed on 2009-10-07
  2. Andreas Pierratos, MD. Nocturnal hemodialysis: dialysis for the new millennium Canadian Medical Association Journal, November 2, 1999; 161 (9), 2 November 1966.

Further reading

External links

United States oriented