Discussion Reply Week 6-1

Discussion Reply Week 6-1

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Telehealth is revolutionizing the way we communicate and care for patients.  Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic health information, combined with telecommunications, such as videoconferencing, the internet, streaming media, and wireless communications, to deliver long-distance clinical care and clinical education (HealthIt.gov, 2019). Although telehealth was originally developed as a way to serve those in rural areas and the underserved population, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis catapulted telehealth as a very acceptable method of providing care as direct contact between provider and patient was minimized during that time (Jin et al., 2020).  Now telehealth is being adopted as an efficient and cost-effective way of delivering quality healthcare (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020). 

Several major factors contributing to the increase in telehealth is demographics, chronic conditions, and an increase in healthcare cost (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2020).  As our society gets older and people are living longer, there will be a greater need to treat patients that are physically not able to get to a medical office and also tend to have more chronic type diseases (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2022).  These chronic conditions are contributing to patients having more disabilities and illnesses (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2022).  These patients are contributing to a rise in healthcare costs due to their increased use of healthcare services (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2022).

There are many benefits to the implementation of telehealth in practices and hospitals in all settings.  Telehealth has the potential to reduce costs due to a decrease in unnecessary emergency department visits and prolonged hospital stays due to patients having better access to medical care (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020).  Another benefit is the ability for telehealth to provide care and resources for patients in rural areas, especially in areas where there is a shortage of healthcare workers (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020).  Lastly, telehealth reduces patient’s travel for those who live in remote areas or have chronic diseases that hinders their ability to be mobile (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020). 

Unfortunately, there are also limitation to fully embracing telehealth.  One disadvantage is being able to get a complete physical examination to help aid in the diagnosis and treatment, especially when auscultation or palpation is necessary (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020). Another limitation is the ability for the older population to embrace and understand how to use technology (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020). Lastly, is many older patients or those living in rural areas do not have access to the internet, a smart phone or a tablet so a patient’s ability to utilize telehealth is greatly diminished (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020). 

There are risk involved with telehealth medicine so it is important that healthcare providers understand those risk.  One such risk is the lack of multistate telehealth licensure (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020).  This forces providers to hold licensure in each of the states they provide telehealth services in so they must understand and review the legislation in each of those states (McGonigle & Mastrian, 2020).  Another risk is patient privacy and confidentiality since providers are utilizing data and platforms that are not 100% safe from hackers or data breaches (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020). Telehealth has not been widely accepted due to patient’s concerns about the security of the telehealth systems (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020).  Lastly, is medical liability and what it covers for telehealth when compared to a traditional practice.  According to Gajarawala & Pelowski (2020), it is important that providers pay special attention to what their liability insurance policies cover since telehealth medicine is unique and might not be considered as standard of care (Gajarawala & Pelowski, 2020).