by Nisha Bhat
Technology has transformed our day-to-day interactions and allowed for efficient communication across long distances. We participate in virtual meetings with coworkers, instantly share photos with family through social media, and Skype friends overseas. Telehealth technologies promise to similarly revolutionize how we experience health care.
Telehealth includes an increasing variety of applications and services that use two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools, and other forms of communication technology. Demand for telehealth has been growing, as it offers many potential benefits including:
- Broader access to providers: Telehealth services have been used for over 40 years to provide healthcare services to patients in faraway locations. Given the provider shortages now prevalent in both urban and rural areas, telehealth has a unique potential to allow patients to access healthcare professionals from a distance.
- Increased cost efficiency: Telehealth has the potential to lower healthcare costs and increase efficiency through better management of chronic disease and reduced length or frequency of hospital stays.
- Enhanced quality of care: In some cases—particularly in mental health care and ICU crises—more timely access to specialists through telehealth services can be crucial to positive health outcomes.