Telehealth: Definition and Benefits

Telehealth aims to improve accessibility to care through new information and communication technologies. This practice, officially authorized in US, could revolutionize our approach to medicine and especially improve the quality and effectiveness of medical care. We are explaining everything about telehealth here.

What is telehealth?

The telehealth or remote medicine is to use information and communications technology to enable or facilitate certain medical procedures. 

This term includes various medical practices, such as remote consultation or data exchange (medical imaging, patient files, etc.). 
 
According to this decree, the implementation of telehealth requires the consent of the patient (except emergency or special cases) and the identification of certain stakeholders.

What are the applications of telehealth?

Telehealth applies to all areas of medicine, whether specialized or not. The teleconsultation connects patients and health professionals. It allows remote consultation, diagnosis and monitoring of the patient. The teleradiology consists, for example to remotely interpret radiological examinations. 

The teleexpertise allows multiple physicians to consult on a patient: it allows including physician to seek a second opinion from an expert doctor. 

Finally, we talk about medical tele – assistance when a doctor remotely assists another health professional in performing a medical procedure. Even surgical procedures can be performed remotely, but this requires complex and expensive devices. This is why telesurgery remains experimental for the moment.

What are the benefits of telehealth?

Telehealth first appeared in the hospital, in the form of “tele-expertise” in advanced specialties. Its main application was the consultation between physicians of different disciplines in liaison with the attending physician. 

Today, this innovative approach is developing and opens new perspectives in the organization of care. 

It has several advantages: 
• it enables home care to be developed, to improve patient follow-up and prevent complications 
• it makes it possible to limit travel (especially for elderly or disabled patients) 
• it facilitates access to care in areas of difficult access 
• it shortens wait times
• it facilitates consultation between general practitioners and specialists.

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