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Posted on:3/24/2006
Telehealth is the delivery of health related services and information via telecommunications technologies.

Telehealth is the delivery of health related services and information via telecommunications technologies.

Clinical uses of telehealth technologies can refer to:

1) Transmission of medical images for diagnosis (often referred to as store and forward telehealth)
2) Groups or individuals exchanging health services or education live via videoconference (real-time telehealth)
3) Transmission of medical data for diagnosis or disease management (sometimes referred to as remote monitoring)
4) Health advice by telephone (referred to as teletriage.

Nonclinical uses of telehealth technologies include:

1) Distance education including continuing medical education, grand rounds, and patient education
2) Administrative uses including meetings among telehealth networks, supervision, and presentations
3) Research

In store and forward telehealth, a digital image is taken using a digital camera, ('stored') and then sent ('forwarded') by computer to another location. In many store and forward specialties, such as teleradiology, an immediate response is not critical.

In real time telehealth a telecommunications link between between the involved parties allows a real-time interaction to take place. Video-conferencing equipment is one of the most common forms of technologies used in synchronous telemedicine. There are also peripheral devices which can be attached to computers or the video-conferenceing equipment which can aid in an interactive examination.

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.

Telehealth is a benefit in countries where the traditional delivery of health services are impacted on by distance and lack of local specialist clinicians to deliver services could benefit. The rate of adoption of telehealth services in any country or 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 prohibit or deter the provision of telehealth second opinions or primary consultations by physicians not licensed in the jurisdiction where the patient resides.

The terms e-health and telemedicine are at times interchanged with telehealth. Like the terms "medicine" and "health care", telemedicine often refers only to the provision of clinical services while the term telehealth can refer to both clinical and non-clinical services such as medical education, administration, and research. The term e-health is often, particularly in the U.K. and Europe, used as an umbrella term that includes telehealth, electronic medical records, and other components of health IT.


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