Telehealth Use in Rural Healthcare
Telehealth has great potential to increase access to and quality of healthcare in rural communities. Technology can now allow rural patients to see specialists without leaving their communities, permits local providers to take advantage of distant expertise, and improves timeliness of care.What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services and information using telecommunications technology.What is telehealth?
According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, telehealth is often used to refer to a broader scope of remote healthcare services than the term telemedicine. Telehealth includes remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services. Although telehealth is broader in scope, the American Telemedicine Association and many other organizations use the terms “telemedicine” and “telehealth” interchangeably.
While one of the most common images of telehealth is of a patient speaking by videoconference with a remote physician, telehealth can take many forms. The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.
Telehealth technologies can include:
- Store-and-forward data, images or videos,
- Remote patient monitoring, and
- mHealth (mobile health) applications
This guide helps healthcare providers find information on telehealth services and highlights funding opportunities and initiatives to implement telehealth services. It also provides examples of telehealth projects as models for rural hospitals and clinics to develop and implement programs. The guide discusses challenges for providing telehealth services in rural areas including workforce issues, quality of care issues, reimbursement, licensure, and access to broadband services.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How does telehealth improve healthcare access in rural communities?
- For what types of care has telehealth technology been effectively used in rural communities?
- How do the Telehealth Resource Centers help rural communities?
- What are some telehealth funding programs for rural providers?
- What are the challenges related to telehealth services in rural communities?
- What facilities, technology, and staffing would our facility need to implement telehealth services?
- How can telehealth be used to reach patients in their homes?
- How does the use of telehealth impact rural healthcare providers?
- What financial impact could the addition of telehealth services have for a rural facility and community?
- Is telehealth usage widespread in rural facilities?