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What is Telehealth?

by GMDP October 31 2021

In this present world, everything can be accessed through a mobile phone. As long as you have an internet connection, everything seems to be near even if it is miles away. You can even improve your health with the use of your own smart devices. 


You can search up different health articles that you can read and learn from. You can also order medicines and other health supplies through an application, and most importantly, you can now talk to your physician or different healthcare providers through your devices at the comfort of your home. 


Patient-physician consultations ideally, should be more conversation-focused and should be done in a quiet and less busy environment. However, healthcare facilities are prone to background distractions because undoubtedly, they are busy facilities.


Another reason why patients may prefer virtual consultations is that it is such a hassle to travel from your home to the healthcare facility especially when there’s traffic or bad weather. Some patients cannot leave their homes easily because they may also have family members that they need to attend to. It is even harder for patients with mobility issues. Or patients who live far away from the facility. This often results in patients not coming in for consultations even if they have an important or urgent concern. 


Through virtual consultations or telehealth, these problems or obstacles may be lessened or eventually eliminated because patients can get the help that they need wherever they may be. 


What is Telehealth?


Telehealth is a digital innovation in Healthcare that uses information technology to access healthcare services and health records remotely. Telehealth services help both physicians and patients communicate with each other anytime and anywhere they may be. 


Telehealth services include: 


Virtual Consultations

Physicians can now check up on their patients with the use of voice calls or video-conferencing. 


Health Educational Videos

Your physician may sometimes send their patients videos that can help you take care of your health. May it be how-to videos or sometimes simple exercises videos. 


Remote Patient Monitoring 

Physicians can now deliver healthcare services anywhere they may be. Physicians can monitor heart rates with the use of a portable device that patients can use in their homes.

 

Patient Portals

With the use of Telehealth, patients can now see their health and medical records, prescriptions, schedules, and can send inquiries all in one place.


Timely Reminders

Imagine how frustrating it is for both patients and physicians if a patient forgets to attend their consultations, as well as not drinking their medication at the allotted time. Telehealth sends patients and physicians timely reminders that will help them stay on track. 


Telehealth’s main goal is to improve the quality of patient care physicians deliver. It aims to make healthcare available to everyone, especially patients who have mobility concerns or those who are living in far rural areas.


 Healthcare providers with the use of Telehealth, make their services more accessible and convenient to their patients. Telehealth also helps patients to become more engaged and aware of their health.  


Given the fast advances of Telehealth, it will also help us understand the system better by looking at how this healthcare innovation started. 


History of Telehealth 


1840s

The first sign of telehealth happened during the Civil War. The soldiers used a telegraph cable to order medical supplies, receive pertinent information and transmit casualty reports. 


1876

The Telephone Revolution. As early as 1876 medical providers have been making use of the telephone to minimize in-person consultations. The use of telephones significantly decreased the number of clinical visits by 1879. 


1928

Reverend John Flynn of Australia spearheaded the telehealth efforts by founding the Aerial Medical Service or AMS. AMS made use of the telephone and telegraph to deliver treatment to remote areas in Australia through an airplane. 


Doctors have started giving consultations and diagnoses through radio communication and telegraph. Once consultations were done, a healthcare staff would eventually provide necessary care to patients.


1950s

The rise of Televisions. To monitor patients, the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute made use of close-circuit televisions. After a few years, the first-ever comprehensive telemedicine was done in Boston’s Logan Airport’s medical station to connect to Massachusetts General Hospital.


1960s

Telehealth’s first-ever modern upgrade was done by the US and Soviets, they hooked animals up to medical monitoring systems and sent them into space. Biometric data was transmitted back to scientists on Earth through a telemetric link.


NASA then established the Integrated Medical and Behavioral Laboratories and Measurement Systems (IMBLMS) program. It was meant to develop a system that could acquire, display, analyze and record a man’s well-being and capability. 


1970s

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, places in rural areas already had issues in receiving healthcare.  With this problem, the federal government provided funding for various telemedicine research and development projects. These projects aimed to explore how technology could be used to overcome these challenges and improve patient care. 


1970s- Present

The Internet age. With the use of the internet, scientists can now acquire more information - more than they need. The internet has helped transmit large amounts of data from one server to another. Digital innovation made the receiving, interpreting and storing of information much efficient and easier. 


Telehealth has since been evolving and improving throughout the years. Telehealth started in one place and is now used in different countries around the world including the Philippines.


History of Telehealth in the Philippines


The first sign of Telehealth in the Philippines was from the National Telehealth Center (NTHC) of the National Telemedicine Service Project in 1998. They aimed to introduce specialists in Philippine General Hospital to the physicians in rural areas. 


From then on, the Department of Health (DOH) has been working with the local government and private healthcare institutions to develop and improve the use of Telehealth here in the Philippines. 


In the present time, because of the COVID-19 virus, more healthcare facilities and independent physicians are making use of Telehealth services to deliver care to their patients. 


Understandably, some Filipino patients are still hesitant to use telehealth. It may be that for some it’s new, some may think it's complicated and some probably think that it is expensive. There are indeed emotional, financial and practical considerations before signing up for this digital innovation. 


It is important though for telehealth system providers, like Global MD Plus, a Philippine-based telehealth service provider in the Philippines, to make patients feel safe and confident that the quality of care they will receive from this service is better than the usual traditional setting. 


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