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What is telehealth?

The 21st century has brought about advancements in technology that enable access to just about anything we might desire or require at any given time and healthcare is no exception. Telehealth puts healthcare at patients’ and doctors’ fingertips and is changing the way we think about connecting to our healthcare. Yet despite it’s growing presence, telehealth still remains shrouded in mystery for many.

Today, we’re answering the top FAQs about telehealth to shed some light on the growing practice. Read on for the rundown on telehealth and what it means for patients and doctors alike.

What is telehealth?
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) defines telehealth as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.” Simply put, telehealth is the delivery of health services using telecommunications and related technologies to virtually support patient care, health education and administrative activities.

What is the difference between telehealth and telemedicine?
If you’ve heard of telehealth then you’ve likely heard of telemedicine. So, the next logical question is “what is telemedicine and how does it differ from telehealth?” We’re glad you asked.

Think of telehealth as the larger umbrella under which telemedicine resides. Telehealth refers to a broad scope of remote healthcare services that are both clinical and non-clinical. On the other hand, telemedicine refers strictly to the clinical side of clinician-to-clinician and clinician-to-patient remote healthcare services. Telemedicine’s clinical services include remote patient consultations, diagnoses and monitoring; transmission of healthcare documents, images and patient data; and video consultations. Telehealth refers to these clinical services, as well as non-clinical services such as remote healthcare provider training, administrative meetings and continuing medical education.

Is telehealth/telemedicine safe?
Not only is telehealth safe, but it’s also a quick and cost-effective way to extend the delivery of healthcare services to underserved regions and those without easy access to healthcare specialists. Like all healthcare professionals, telehealth practitioners must abide by standards and best practices set forth to ensure safe, uniform and high-quality patient care. The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has developed core practice guidelines for telemedicine, which ensures the highest quality of service for all patients.

Where can I access telehealth services?
The Global Partnership for Telehealth has developed the Open Access Network. One of the most robust and comprehensive networks in the world, the network is made up of national and international strategic partnership clinical access points with high-quality telemedicine programs. The Open Access Network features over 600 locations, 200 specialists and providers representing more than 30 medical specialties.

The Open Access Network’s connections include:
• Adult and pediatric specialists
• Primary care
• Trauma units
• Nursing homes
• Mental health clinics
• Child advocacy organizations
• School systems
• TPA stroke assessment clinics
• Correctional facilities
• Disaster recovery units
• Continuing education programs
• Consultative services in network design, telemedicine development and implementation

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