Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of healthcare digitalization like telehealth in the United States had been minimal. Yet, the global interest in the implementation of telehealth overgrows during the crisis. As healthcare providers, insurers, also the federal government are looking for ways to deliver care to patients in their residences while limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
What Is Telehealth, and What Roles It Plays During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Telehealth describes a wide variety of technologies—from electronic information to telecommunication technologies such as smartphones, wearable devices, webcam, etc.—to deliver health consultation and education services without the need for face-to-face contact. Telehealth deals with extensive series of patient-focused functions, which are generally referred to as:
- Mobile Health (mHealth)
is the practice of medicine, wellness strategy, education, and public health supported by mobile communication devices such as tablet computers, mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wearable devices. Its applications are varied, from targeted text messaging to disease and epidemic outbreak tracking, etc. Various mHealth apps feature patient self-interaction that allows users to coordinate their wellness, fitness info, and daily lifestyle, such as medication schedule and so on.
- Digital consultation
a remote system of two-way communication between an individual and his/her physician or other wellness experts using texting or modern audiovisual technologies.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
is a technology to monitor patients from the comfort of their home or in remote areas using digital interaction innovations. Data gathered will be transferred to medical professionals for treatment effectiveness analysis, procedure optimization, or relevant assistance.
The CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) mentioned telehealth presents various advantages during the pandemic crisis by increasing accessibility of care, decreasing in-person consultation, and retain sparse medical supplies. The study by CDC shows US telehealth consultation in the last week of March 2020 raised 154% in contrast to the same period in 2019. The increase of health and wellness awareness, combined with the policy and regulation adjustment, also pushes telehealth’s rise.
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