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.
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.read more