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Telemedicine and How it Benefits Society

3 November, 2011 | medical equipment, medical equipment parts, Medical Software, MedWOW, Telemedicine

e-Health Defined

The term e-Health has been in use since the year 2000. e-Health includes much of medical information science, but is inclined to prioritize the delivery of clinical information, care and services rather than the functions of technologies. No single consensus, all-encompassing definition of e-health exists – the term tends to be defined in terms of a series of characteristics specified at varying levels of detail and generality. e-health is considered an important revolution in healthcare since the beginning of modern medicine or even public health measures, including sanitation, clean water and more.

The term e-Health can encompass a range of services or systems that are on the edge of medicine/healthcare and information technology, including:

  • Electronic health records: enabling the communication of patient data between different healthcare professionals.
  • Telemedicine: physical and psychological treatments at a distance.
  • Consumer health informatics: use of electronic resources on medical topics by healthy individuals or patients.
  • Health knowledge management: e.g. in an overview of latest medical journals, best practice guidelines or epidemiological tracking.
  • Virtual healthcare teams: consisting of healthcare professionals who collaborate and share information on patients through digital equipment.
  • m-Health includes the use of mobile devices in collecting aggregate and patient level health data, providing healthcare information to practitioners, researchers, and patients, real-time monitoring of patient vitals, and direct provision of care via mobile telemedicine.
  • Healthcare Information Systems: also often refers to software solutions for appointment scheduling, patient data management, work schedule management and other administrative tasks surrounding health.

Over time, chronic patients often acquire a high level of knowledge about the processes involved in their own care, and frequently develop a routine in coping with their condition. For these types of routine patients, front-end e-health solutions tend to be relatively easy to implement.

What exactly is e-Mental health?

e-Mental health refers to the delivery of mental health services via internet through: videoconferencing, chat, or email web applications. e-Mental health encompasses online talk therapy, online pharmaceutical therapy, online counseling, computer-based interventions, cyber mental health approaches, and online life coaching. This form of psychological intervention modality offers a series of benefits, as well as challenges to providers and clients. Most notable of all challenges is online security.

How does Telemedicine and m-Health work?

Telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients’ health status or for educational purposes. It includes consultative, diagnostic and treatment services. Mobile health information technology (m-Health) typically refers to portable devices with the capability to create, store, retrieve, and transmit data in real time between end users for the purpose of improving patient safety and quality of care. The flow of mobile health information is characterized by portable hardware coupled with software applications central to patient care and subsequently increases clinicians’ reach, mobility, and ease of information access, regardless of location.

For example, a clinician might use a mobile device to access a patient electronic health record, write and transmit prescriptions to a pharmacy, interact with patient treatment plans, communicate public health data, order diagnostic tests, review labs, or access medical references. Data transmission is accomplished by technologies common in everyday life including: blue tooth, cell phone, infra-red, WiFi, and wired technologies; all of which operate as part of a network. Mobile devices can be helpful across the health care spectrum, transmitting vital information quickly during an acute public health crisis or being used for ongoing needs, such as education and training. When utilized for patient care, mobile devices are credited with improving patient safety by eliminating errors commonly associated with paper-based medical records and improving and enhancing the continuity of care. In addition to improved patient outcomes, workflow and administrative efficiencies from the use of mobile devices can produce cost savings for the user or user organization.

The future of Telemedicine

Telemedicine applications will play an increasingly important role in healthcare and provide tools that are indispensable for home health care, remote patient monitoring, and disease management. Telemedicine will include not only rural health and battlefield care, but nursing home, assisted living facilities, and maritime and aviation applications.

Advances in technology, including wireless connectivity and mobile devices, will give practitioners, medical centers, and hospitals important new tools for managing patient care, electronic records, and medical billing in order to ultimately enable patients to have more control of their own well being.

The benefits of Mobile Health (m-Health)

m-Health or mobile health, is a term used for the practice of medicine and public health, supported by mobile devices. The term is most commonly used in reference to using mobile communication devices, such as mobile phones and PDAs, for health services and information. The m-Health field has emerged as a sub-segment of e-Health, the use of information and communication technology such as computers, mobile phones, communications satellite, patient monitors, etc., for health services and information. m-Health applications include the use of mobile devices in collecting community and clinical health data, delivery of healthcare information to practitioners, researchers, and patients, real-time monitoring of patient vital signs, and direct provision of care via mobile telemedicine.

While m-Health certainly is applicable for industrialized nations, the field has emerged in recent years primarily as an application for developing countries, stemming from the rapid rise of mobile phone penetration in low-income nations.  The field, then, largely emerges as a means of providing greater access to larger segments of populations in developing countries, as well as improving the capacity of health systems in such countries to provide quality healthcare.