health

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Top Telehealth Terms You Need to Know

by Anu Sarma on August 11, 2016 Comments Off on Top Telehealth Terms You Need to Know

Did you hear about telehealth? If you suffer from a serious long-term health condition, or you need monitoring or diagnosis on a regular basis, you will probably benefit from telehealth. As technology continues to advance and the world increasing operates on a remote basis, telehealth is an example of modern technology helping solve important healthcare problems.

Medication

Find out more about telehealth and the key terms and terminology you need to know in this quick guide.

What is Telehealth?

One answer to the question what is telehealth comes from The Telecare Services Association which says telehealth is “the remote exchange of data between a patient at home and their clinician(s) to assist in diagnosis and monitoring typically used to support patients with Long Term Conditions. Among other things it comprises of fixed or mobile home units to measure and monitor temperatures, blood pressure and other vital signs parameters (and the answering of targeted questions) for clinical review at a remote location using phone lines or wireless technology.”

The concept of telehealth explained further shows that this is a way of monitoring patients using technology that assists with such conditions as chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and epilepsy. Using telehealth services allows a patient to take better control over their own health, and it also allows clinicians to more effectively monitor patients.

As information is transmitted in real time, issues can be resolved before they become critical or life endangering. The telehealth technology works by monitoring vital signs such as a patient’s blood pressure and sending this information via broadband or a telephone line to the healthcare professional. Anything that appears outside of the “normal” ranges is investigated and the clinician formulates the necessary response to keep the patient safe and well.

Changes in a Definition of Telehealth

Experts say that, over time, the definition of telehealth is broadening and can be used to encompass other forms of healthcare monitoring such as lifestyle changes and the remote monitoring of emergencies in real time.

Other terms associated with telehealth include telecare, telemedicine (which according to the World Health Organisation means “the practice of medical care using interactive audio visual and data communications. This includes the delivery of medical care, diagnosis, consultation and treatment, as well as health education and the transfer of medical data”), e-health and m-health.

Key Telehealth Terminology

To the average patient, telehealth terminology can be confusing. The jargon associated with telehealth can make it difficult for a patient to understand how their care is being affected, particularly older patients who do not generally use wireless and monitoring technology on a daily basis.

Here are a few examples of telehealth terms explained:

Analog: Many telehealth devices use analog lines to transmit data, which means that the data is transmitted as a continuous stream. It is a way of describing how data moves between devices.

Bandwidth: This is the capability of the data transmission – the capacity of data per unit of time. In general the higher the bandwidth of a transmission, the more data that can be transmitted.

Broadband: Broadband refers to a communications system that can carry a high amount of different frequencies meaning that many different messages can be transmitted at the same time.

Digital camera: Most telehealth systems have digital cameras involved that allow still or motion images to be transmitted between devices. This is useful for remote healthcare monitoring.

Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM): This acronym is a standard of quality in communications for medical imaging devices.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI): EDI is the means of sending data directly between points without any paperwork or any human intervention.

Encryption: When data is sent electronically it is encrypted – mathematically coded – so that it cannot be read by anyone apart from the person it is sent to. This is a security feature that allows medical data to remain confidential.

Intranet: This is a form of private internet where a number of communication hubs are linked, such as in a medical office or a hospital.

Peripheral devices: Different devices are attached to the telehealth systems that help to improve communications and send better data including blood pressure cuffs, weight scales, and stethoscopes.

Real time: A telehealth system sends data and it is received as it is sent – in real time, with only a slight delay.

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Anu SarmaTop Telehealth Terms You Need to Know

Urgent Care v.s. Emergency Care

by Anu Sarma on March 20, 2014 Comments Off on Urgent Care v.s. Emergency Care

Our ability to make balanced and rational decisions is not at its best when we are sick, injured or in acute pain.  At such moments, our main focus is to restore balance and eliminate our agony.  To that extent, we might make decisions that do not really cater to our personal (or financial) wellbeing.

When we are unwell and do not have the choice of seeing our primary care physician, we must decide whether to seek assistance in the ER or at an Urgent Care Center. Hence, it is wise to know when to use the Emergency Room and when to use Urgent Care centers.  Both facilities are designed to alleviate medical conditions but do so at dramatically different costs and levels. Knowing where to go to treat what before a health crisis strikes is a wise strategy that will replenish your health more effectively and safeguard your finances from unnecessary charges.The definition of the word emergency might clue us in as to why the ER is so heavily overused. It is defined as “sudden crisis requiring action” and “needing immediate treatment”.  Without a doubt, this is the mindset we find ourselves when stricken with a malady that upsets our daily routines and comfort level.  While we may want to receive immediate care and attention, the truth is ER waits for non-traumatic injuries or illnesses can average up to four hours and have an average expense of $1,300 dollars per visit.

Urgent care

Perhaps, it is why Urgent Care centers are becoming more and more popular and widespread. These centers are more like small private clinics that are designed to treat minor/daily/common illnesses and injuries in a prompt and less comprehensive way; they are staffed by physicians, nurses and assistants that provide care for common injuries and illnesses in a quicker and more cost-effective way.

It makes sense, Emergency Rooms are designed and actually specialize in  maximizing  the chances of saving lives.  They are required to be open 24 hours and have state of the art facilities.  Whether you come in with pain in your ear or chest, a very thorough analysis of your current health situation will be performed.  This might include but may not be limited to blood work, urine samples, ultrasounds, cat scans or anything else required to better understand the exact cause of the patient’s distress.  If you are at the ER for a life-threatening emergency, all of this makes sense.  Nevertheless, if you are there as a result of an ear infection, you may find it excessive in more ways than one.  Misuse and overuse of the ER are, in fact, the main reasons for higher costs and rate increases for insurance premiums. Not to mention, an overbooking of the facilities that results in longer waits for patients with non-threatening cases.

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians you should visit an ER if any of the following signs are present:

  • Chest or pain pressure
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sudden dizziness, weakness, or changes in vision
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Changes in mental status, such as confusion
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Large open wounds
  • Sudden change in vision
  • Chest pain
  • Sudden weakness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Major burns
  • Spinal injuries
  • Severe head injury
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Abdominal pain

  On the other hand they recommend visiting an Urgent Care center for the following:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Minor broken bones
  • Mild asthma attacks
  • Minor infections
  • Small cuts
  • Sore throats
  • Rashes
  • Minor burns
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pelvic infections

A quick examination of the difference in cost between treatment in the ER or at an Urgent Care facility for minor illnesses will further point out why Urgent care facilities are more cost effective when you are not experiencing any life-threatening issues.  For example, a case of acute bronchitis treated at the ER will average a total cost of $814 while the same illness with the same prescription will total $122 at the urgent care, treating acute pharyngitis at the ER will cost $620 while visiting a local urgent care will cost $93.  If you have an ear infection, you will spend $498 to feel better at the ER, while the Urgent Care will only need $100 of your money to solve the issue.

Consequently, it pays and well, to know when to go to the Emergency Room.  It also comes in handy to identify beforehand what Urgent Centers are near your home, work or children’s school.  If you are insured, call your insurance company and ask them which centers are in the network. Having a plan previously established before a crisis strikes will not only give you peace of mind, but will allow you to act promptly and without doubt when all your energy is drained by discomfort and clouds your best judgment.

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Anu SarmaUrgent Care v.s. Emergency Care