Telehealth is a recent addition to the arsenal of tools available to health care providers. Its effects are currently a subject of scientific debate, and no implementation strategy distinguishes itself as excellent and an object for imitation by hospitals throughout the nation. However, many institutions in the United States and worldwide are implementing the approach and testing its pros and cons. A review of their experiences may identify a strategy that may be followed for a hospital-wide implementation of the technology. As such, this essay will review current attempts to use telehealth and discuss their conclusions.
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The use of technology has potential benefits for patients who can manage their conditions if given appropriate training and monitored regularly. O’Connor et al. (2016) describe a significant reduction in heart failure patients’ readmissions after the implementation of a telehealth program. According to Campion, Dorsey, and Topol (2016), such an approach also decentralizes healthcare and allows some acute conditions to be treated in the patient’s home. However, Scott and Mars (2015) describe issues such as inadequate evidence, poor implementations, high cost, and the requirement of reliable connectivity. Martin-Khan et al. (2015) describe centralization as an appropriate strategy for increasing the scope and engagement of telehealth while reducing costs. However, the method only addresses part of the current issues.
Telehealth is a technology with the potential to change the paradigm of healthcare delivery by shifting the location of care provided to the patient’s home. However, numerous limitations, most importantly, the lack of evidence, prevent its global adoption. A centralized model with a dedicated coordination service appears to be beneficial for hospitals. Therefore, implementations can follow this strategy, but the people who work in telehealth must follow the latest developments and introduce continuous improvements to their services.
Campion, E. W., Dorsey, E. R., & Topol, E. J. (2016). State of telehealth. The New England Journal of Medicine, 375(2), 154-161.
Martin-Khan, M., Fatehi, F., Kezilas, M., Lucas, K., Gray, L. C., & Smith, A. C. (2015). Establishing a centralized telehealth service increases telehealth activity at a tertiary hospital. BMC Health Services Research, 15(1), 534-546.
O’Connor, M., Asdornwised, U., Dempsey, M. L., Huffenberger, A., Jost, S., Flynn, D., & Norris, A. (2016). Using telehealth to reduce all-cause 30-day hospital readmissions among heart failure patients receiving skilled home health services. Applied Clinical Informatics, 7(2), 238-247.
Scott, R. E., & Mars, M. (2015). Telehealth in the developing world: Current status and future prospects. Smart Homecare Technology and TeleHealth, 2015(3), 25-37.
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