What is Telemedecine ?
Telemedicine can be defined as the delivery of healthcare services through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in a situation where the actors are not at the same location. The actors can either be two healthcare professionals (e.g. teleradiology, telesurgery) or a healthcare professional and a patient (e.g. telemonitoring of the chronically ill such as those with diabetes and heart conditions, telepsychiatry etc).
Telemedicine includes all areas where medical or social data is being sent/exchanged between at least two remote locations, including both Caregiver-Patient/Citizen as well as Doctor to Doctor communication.
- Telehealth/Remote Patient Management
- Teledisciplines (including teleradiology, teledermatology, telescreening, etc)
Benefits of Telehealth
- Reduced mortality: telehealth patients live 15 to 55% longer, compared to people receiving usual care.
- Reduced hospitalisations: the use of telehealth results in a more stable population in which enrolled members in programmes utilise less acute healthcare resources: reduced hospitalisations (30-50%), and reduced hospital length of stay (24-48%).
- Increased quality of life of patients: patients in telehealth programmes have a better quality of life. This is due to improved and stabilised health as well as peace of mind, better connection to their care team and involvement in the healthcare process.
- Early detection of exacerbations, impairment of health: the system regularly gathers information from various sources on vital signs, symptoms, behaviour and the patient’s knowledge about their condition, as well as environmental status and psychosocial context.
- Individualised interventions: because of the regular assessment of the patient’s vital signs and symptoms, and disease specific knowledge and behaviour, clinicians can target interventions to the exact situation and aspect of the patient’s illness, behaviour, understanding of symptoms and psychosocial/home situation.
- Patient empowerment, education, behavioural reinforcement and motivation: information delivered via the telehealth system is targeted to specific knowledge deficits or areas of recommended behavioural modification.
- Efficient, exception-based interventions: telehealth systems enable clinical staff to be in regular contact with larger member caseloads compared to standard telephonic models for individuals with complex chronic conditions. On the patient side, each member is connected to the telehealth system, is assessed, given feedback and positive reinforcement when needed – a model that is not feasible by traditional models of telephonic clinical management (because of personnel capacities necessary and related costs), even for individuals at high acuity levels.
- Societal acceptance of mobile communications: in our society, mobile has a strong societal acceptance and use which will facilitate the adoption by patients and medical professionals.
- Real time communication: mHealth offers the possibility for almost real-time communication and two-way information between the patient/citizen and the medical professional/service provider.