According to World Health Organization (WHO) Telehealth is the “delivery of health care services, where patients and providers are separated by distance. Telehealth uses ICT for the exchange of information for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health professionals. Telehealth can contribute to achieving universal health coverage by improving access for patients to quality, cost-effective, health services wherever they may be. It is particularly valuable for those in remote areas, vulnerable groups and ageing populations.”
Telehealth often gets mixed up with telemedicine. In fact, telemedicine is only defined as remote clinical services, such as diagnosis and monitoring. On the other hand, Telehealth includes preventative, promotive, and curative care delivery.
When we talk about psychiatric services, Telehealth is specified as Telepsychiatry. It is proven that Telepsychiatry is as effective as in-person psychiatric consultations for diagnostic assessment. It is also at least as good for the treatment of disorders such as depression and post traumatic stress disorder, and may be better than in-person treatment in some groups of patients, notably children, veterans and individuals with agoraphobia.
Telehealth has a number of advantages which can hardly be missed:
– Patient only needs to have an electronic device (PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone) in order to get connected to the doctor.
– Patient stays at home, which provides comfort and safety.
– It works well (if not better) for vulnerable and handicap people as it doesn’t require going out.
– It gives access to health care, even to patients living in remote areas.
– Overall cost of a consultation is reduced (travel cost,etc).
– The quality of healthcare is improved, as Telehealth improves the delivery and treatment of acute conditions.
– Patient satisfaction increased to 99% , based on a CVS Minute Clinics research.
Telehealth is already more frequent and more popular among patients. From various Research conducted, an average of 73% state that they have either used Telehealth or they will use it in future.
Unlike COVID-19, Telehealth has come here to stay!