Why is telehealth so important?

January 8, 2016 | Technology

Remote healthcare could soon change how patients and doctors interact.

Anyone paying attention to the fields of medicine and technology in recent years is certain to have noticed a growing trend. Across Australia and in many countries around the world, there has been a significant intersection of the two fields, something that has given rise to a number of related developments and fields.

For one, there's mHealth, an abbreviation for mobile health. It's the practice of using mobile devices to support medical professionals. There's also the digitisation of medical records, a trend that's designed to improve record-keeping accuracy.

However, there's one term that could prove to have one of the biggest impacts of all. What's more, it's likely going to prove as useful to aged care as it is to healthcare – we're talking about telehealth.

Understanding telehealth

Before delving into the benefits, it's a good idea to understand in a general sense what telehealth is. According to HealthIT.gov, telehealth is essentially the use of technologies to support healthcare over long distances. For example, a doctor could video call a patient living in a remote part of the country to provide a consultation. Further down the road, new technologies will likely make the admission of drugs and other services equally easy.

It's easy to see how such a trend could be a boon for Australia, especially aged care. With such a large population spread, having doctors be able to care for patients across the country will be invaluable. Let's take a look at a few of the patient – and doctor – specific benefits.

The benefits for patients

As noted above, patients can access high-quality care from across the country, without the hassle of sitting in a waiting room. What's more, patients can digitally send reports and other examination results to physicians before they have a consultation, making the process significantly easier.

The benefits for doctors

Doctors can see similar benefits as patients. They can easily see a larger number of patients from across the country, and save time travelling to different parts of Australia. What's more, it's easier for a doctor to provide ongoing care, as access to records is significantly easier.

Telehealth is likely to continue growing at a rapid pace, and for good reason. In countries across the globe, a network of medical professionals able to provide their services regardless of location will be extremely useful. Certainly, there's no avoiding the fact that with a growing number of elderly it's going to be vital to ensure a strong care network is in place.