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Telehealth 101

Posted by on May 16th, 2018

PictureYou may have heard terms like telemedicinetelehealth, or mhealth in discussions around providing clinical care or education from a distance. MedlinePlus defines telehealth simply as “using electronic communications to provide or get health care services.” Some definitions that might be found in around telehealth policies and legislation include: 

  • Synchronous – live video and/or audio 
  • Asynchronous – also known as “store and forward” and not live 
  • Remote home monitoring – monitoring things like glucose or heart pressure from a distance 
  • Originating site – where the patient is located 
  • Distant site – where the provider is located 

Telehealth may also include services like getting text message reminders to take medicine or consults done over video conferencing (although it can be found being used interchangeably with telemedicine or mhealth). The potential benefits that MedlinePlus also outlines are: 

  • Avoid having to travel (including money spent on traveling) 
  • Expert care from an out-of-state specialist 
  • Helps older adults or those with mobility issues 
  • Regular monitoring of health problems without frequent appointments
  • More independence and less hospitalization for people with chronic diseases 

Insurance doesn’t pay for all services and, depending on the state, the ability to practice or receive telehealth services comes with certain restrictions. The Center for Connected Health Policy published a document last year that examines each states laws. You can find that document here: 

State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies: A Comprehensive Scan of the 50 States and District of Columbia (Fall 2017) – Center for Connected Health Policy: The National Telehealth Policy Resource Center (external) 

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