Definition of Telehealth

Updated: Sep 3


The invention of the Internet has transformed modern life dramatically, and it also takes the healthcare system to the next level. Many countries have utilized the power of digital in telehealth for decades, while others have still been left behind. The global pandemic COVID-19 forces the government and healthcare authority to implement telehealth, especially for treating F0 home management and continuing updated education. In July 2021, the Ministry of Vietnamese Health sent an official dispatch to the healthcare authorities requesting increased use of telehealth in medical treatment, especially for COVID-19 patients. There are various telehealth tools available to help you manage your healthcare and deliver the best care services for customers. Are you taking advantage of them? For better understanding, take a look at some of the definitions in telehealth sectors:


Telehealth


According to NEJM, telehealth delivers healthcare and health-related services, including medical care, continuing education for healthcare professionals and medical staff, health information services, and self-care via telecommunications and digital communication technologies. For remote assistance, patients will prepare needed technology devices that can help doctors monitor their health condition and fundamental biochemical index based on the Internet.


For instance, healthcare professionals can manage their diabetes patients who live far away from the center hospital (mountains, plains, etc.) by following some of the activities below:

  • Use smartphone or technology devices to electronically upload the biochemical index relating to patients' disease for review by healthcare technical staff or nurses.

  • Watch videos that have been designed and updated for diabetes patients for better patient education.

  • All of the medical records will be stock up, including consent forms, medication prescriptions, etc. Therefore, patients can receive a service line approach when physicians and other allied health workers can be involved in the treatment. For example, clinical pharmacists are able to do a thorough reconcile medication to avoid medical errors and optimize patient adherence.

  • Get email, SMS, or any notification reminders via integrated digital devices when you need a flu shot, adherence schedule of taking medications, preventive care, or even emergency.

The hospital can generate plenty of activities via telehealth connecting medical staff and illness people without worrying about geographical distance and saving time for both sides.


Usually, some people use the terms telehealth and telemedicine interchangeably. While telemedicine refers to the practice of medicine via remote means, telehealth is a blanket covering all aspects of healthcare activities and healthcare systems conducted via digital telecommunication. Here is the definition of telemedicine for you to differentiate these two terms:


Telemedicine


Oxford defines telemedicine as the type of remote diagnosis and treatment of patients employing telecommunication technology. In the North of Vietnam, up to now, nearly 100% of district health facilities have connected with central hospitals, blurring the distances between lines to cope with the urgent COVID-19 context. The complication cases can be consulted by leading experts without transferring physically to the central hospitals.


Telepharmacy


Last but not least, telepharmacy also belongs to telehealth. The term "telepharmacy" indicates a form of pharmaceutical care in which pharmacists and patients are not in the same place and can interact using information and communication technology facilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the pharmacist community hasn't deeply involved in the frontline as clinicians, but they did not stand out in the fight. Many pharmaceuticals activities were forced to move on online channels, such as medicine delivery services, medical consultants, or give a hand to take care of self-treated F0 at home to relieve the pressure burden on doctors in ICU. All activities are flexibly conducted by social media and telecommunications. Moreover, pharmaceutical economic sectors are now focusing on promoting digital technologies to create systemic services, or even automatic.


Digital healthcare plays a paramount role in the VUCA (Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) era, but we face many challenges to transform significantly compared with the fast speed of AI development. Some of us are still in our comfort zone, and the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the healthcare system to take a huge step to move on the digital platform. But to say for the long term and sustainable development, we need to seriously consider the context and dig in solutions as well as seize many opportunities, turn our passive role into proactive, and control the times.


References:

  1. Bộ Y tế - trang thông tin về dịch bệnh viêm đường hô hấp COVID-19. 2021.Bộ Y tế hỏa tốc yêu cầu tăng cường sử dụng Telehealth trong điều trị COVID-19.

  2. Mayo Clinic. 2020. Telehealth: Technology meets health care.

  3. NEJM. 2018. What Is Telehealth?. NEJM Catalyst

  4. Simone Baldoni. 2019. Telepharmacy Services: Present Status and Future Perspectives: A Review. NCBI

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