COVID-19 has revealed to us the struggle of delivering healthcare to patients while under lockdown or with patients unable to meet their health service providers face-to-face. A concept has emerged in modern health care service delivery and that is called, “Telehealth”. Telehealth is s defined as the delivery and facilitation of health and health-related services including medical care, provider and patient education, health information services, and self-care via telecommunications and digital communication technologies. This concept was not created only during the COVID-19 Pandemic but, indeed, this pandemic is evidence of the vital role of technology in delivery healthcare.
How is telehealth administered? Some strategies used in telehealth include, live video conferencing, mobile health apps, “store and forward” electronic transmission, and remote patient monitoring (RPM). Telemedicine, on the other hand, is defined by Oxford as the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. Telemedicine encompasses the use of technologies and telecommunication systems to administer healthcare to patients who are geographically separated from providers.
The use of telehealth, sometimes called e-health or m-health, is to bridge the demand for healthcare despite distance and restriction. Some of the goals of telehealth, include the following
- Make health care accessible to people who live in rural or isolated communities.
- Make services more readily available or convenient for people with limited mobility, time or transportation options.
- Provide access to medical specialists.
- Improve communication and coordination of care among members of a health care team and a patient.
- Provide support for self-management of health care.
In the Philippines, telehealth remains to be instrumental in health service delivery as we are ushering in more modern ways of healthcare. Take for example, in the present context, the growth in teleconsultations came about after an organization collaborated with the Philippines Department of Health and the National Privacy Commission in providing free telemedicine services, which aided in reducing health center occupancy and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
One study even suggests that the increase in telemedicine was greatest among patients in counties with low poverty levels (about 48 visits per 10,000 people versus 15 per 10,000 people in high-poverty areas) and among patients in metropolitan areas (about 50 visits per 10,000 people versus about 31 visits per 10,000 people in rural areas).
For us student nurses and the nursing profession, we should, likewise, adapt to telehealth and telemedicine in also providing nursing care for patients. As we work with other medical professions, modernizing healthcare is important as we move forward and ensure that no one is left behind.
For more information on telehealth, one can visit the National Telehealth Center at https://telehealth.ph/
https://catalyst.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/CAT.18.0268 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/telehealth/art-20044878#:~:text=Telehealth%20is%20the%20use%20of,or%20support%20health%20care%20services.https://opengovasia.com/rapid-development-of-telehealth-services-in-the-philippines/ https://www.rand.org/news/press/2021/03/15.html