The first is between healthcare providers. Tools such as email and video let healthcare providers consult in real-time with off-site specialists from across the country. This can include multidisciplinary videoconferencing with healthcare providers in different locations to discuss treatment plans as well as peer-to-peer mentoring, such as a remotely located emergency department connecting with the emergency department of a larger hospital to discuss care for a client.
Another delivery of telehealth is between clients and their healthcare providers. Tools like video, phone, and email facilitate secure virtual visits with the client’s treatment team. This can include virtual consultations between a rural client and a specialist in an urban hospital or with a pharmacist in managing medications. Primary care virtual visits help manage post-discharge follow-ups or chronic diseases like diabetes and provide access to mental health services like counseling. Additionally, clients may engage in telehealth services when they are immunocompromised and cannot risk being exposed to pathogens in a clinic setting. Telehealth is also used as a tool during outbreaks of infectious diseases to limit disease spread.
EXAMPLECOVID-19 has placed an increased emphasis on telehealth services and usage.
Finally, telehealth delivery also includes clients interacting with mobile health technology. Tools like wearable monitors such as blood glucose monitoring, Bluetooth enabled scales that transmit data to the provider, and blood pressure monitors enabled with technology to transmit blood pressure readings to the clinic. This includes tracking health data using activity trackers and sharing the data with their treatment team, accessing health records at home, consuming health-related content like videos, and engaging in smartphone games to improve cognitive fitness and reduce the risks of dementia. This area of telehealth is expanding rapidly as both consumers and providers look to technology to help manage disease processes and promote health.