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Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. Telehealth could be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over the telephone or as sophisticated as doing robotic surgery between facilities at different ends of the globe.
Telehealth is an expansion of telemedicine, and it encompasses preventative, promotive and curative aspects of healthcare delivery. Telehealth stresses a myriad of technology solutions. For example, physicians use email to communicate with patients, order drug prescriptions and provide other health services. One of the most significant increases in telehealth usage is the home monitoring of conditions by patients whose clinical trials in the UK have shown to improve mortality by around 47%.
The concept of Telemedicine is that the health care system could save considerable money, and patients could experience a heightened level of support for particularly delicate conditions, if the provider could access the patient remotely.
The Concept Of Telemedicine
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As technology has gotten more sophisticated and less expensive to deploy, telehealth services have become more appealing to all parties – patients, insurance companies and providers of healthcare services.
Medicare has issued very comprehensive guidelines, and many Medicaid agencies have adopted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ guidelines as well. Commercial insurance carriers address it in their provider manuals, but always with a litany of caveats as to when, if, and how much they might pay. And the documentation, coding and reimbursement rules are likely to trip up providers as they attempt to participate in this new healthcare delivery system.
The good news is that if this technology is able to deliver as promised, we could be welcoming a new breed of medical monitoring devices in our homes in the very near future.
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