When people suffer from high-level chronic illness, which is mostly accompanied by excruciating pain, the notion that medical technology can reinstate their life is incredibly enticing. In recent times, the majority of people have been succumbing to chronic illnesses. However, they are currently entrusting their wellbeing in healthcare institutions, which offer Telehealth. Patients who suffer from chronic illness go through periods where conventional prescriptions are adjusted due to the shrinking effectiveness of the drugs.
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In this regard, there has been international interest in Telehealth based on its potential for supporting chronic patients. It helps in the management of their health conditions. Telehealth denotes the use of computer-aided expertise by caregivers who are located at a far-away place to offer health services to sick people who are located in remote areas. The proposal seeks to examine the efficacy of this technology.
According to Chang and Johnson (2008), the prevalence of chronic illnesses increases with age. Hence, if one acquires the illness at an old age, the situation is worse to the extent that such a person is highly incapacitated in terms of energy. He or she may be unable to frequent the hospital. Thus, Telehealth is a technology that has been proved a better healthcare system when it comes to managing the health of such incapacitated people.
However, the technology has diverse effects on different patients depending on various factors such as the method of Telehealth used or the level of shuffling of the medical practitioners, which consequently affects the patient-doctor relationship. Hence, it is crucial to investigate the efficacy of the use of Telehealth interventions on persons with chronic illnesses. The research will test the hypothesis that Telehealth interventions on persons with chronic illnesses improve their health against the claim that such interventions do not improve the patients’ wellbeing.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Telehealth lies in the field of telemedicine, which refers to the delivery of healthcare services by health practitioners where distance proves critical. In this field, ICT is applied for the continuous exchange of imperative information such as diagnosis, the extent of the injury, or disease treatment and prevention. In some instances, evaluation, research, and education of the health practitioners are done with the aim of empowering them to improve individuals’ health. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have a huge potential to enhance chronic care by supporting organizational changes.
For instance, the persistent care framework, which deploys the Information and Communication Technology to offer sophisticated care services has continuously confirmed its ability to enhance respiratory health for people with unremitting illnesses (Toseland, Haigler, & Monahan, 2011). In addition, telemedicine has been captured as a health plan that applies remote methods to improve patients’ health. Telehealth is one of these methods. The technology allows a dual-channel real-time communication, which is interactive in nature, between the medical practitioner and the patient. The dual-channel communication is made possible through means of interactive telecommunication equipment such as audio, visual, or audio-visual technologies (Fleisher & Dechene, 2008).
Proponents of Telehealth argue that the public is very concerned about healthcare information. Hence, according to Lustig (2012), Telehealth is a suitable platform that upholds the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009. The Act emphasizes the need to have patients accessing health services efficiently and at a reduced cost (Lustig, 2012). Glenn Hammack, the Chief Executive Officer and President of NuPhysicia, a medical company, which provides businesses with Telehealth capabilities, states that the major selling point for telemedicine is its value that is evident through the increasing access and convenience of many healthcare elements (Harper, 2012).
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The majority of clients are medical practitioners who directly provide Telehealth services to patients. Harper (2012) asserts that the technology improves the health of those suffering from chronic illnesses. However, some people such as Terry (2014) argue against Telehealth citing reduced patient-doctor contact, especially in chronic illnesses where high-level service shuffling is witnessed. Hence, patients may end up with a doctor who is unaware of their health history.
The target population for this research involves people who are suffering from chronic illnesses and are under Telehealth. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) protect their identities. The clause safeguards patients’ information to prevent it from being directly linked to the ailing person through various means such as name, telephone contacts, or even insurance identification numbers.
Therefore, the only way to achieve the target population is to approach numerous medical facilities and request volunteers to participate in the research. The study will use a sample size of 100 participants. This number is large enough to allow the researcher to generalize results about the population by observing the sample results. Such a sample size will empower the researcher to draw accurate conclusions about the situation on the ground.
In addition, my inclusion criteria involve patients who are under Telehealth healthcare and are of the age of 18 years and above. Moreover, the patients should be presented with an informed consent that gives them the right to decide whether to participate in the research or not. The research will also use diverse participants regarding their age distribution to attract a heterogeneous sample. On the other hand, the exclusion criteria will involve patients who are below 18 years and/or who have not provided consent into the research.
The research will apply random sampling to ensure that all the potential participants in the target population have an equal chance of being part of the sample. Therefore, the sample will offer a general picture of the population (18 years and above) of people with chronic illness under Telehealthcare.
The research is a qualitative study of the potential purpose and efficacy of Telehealth in chronic illnesses. The consultation will be targeted at sick people, medical practitioners, and caregivers who offer crucial care to individuals who have persistent health issues. Moreover, health information experts who provide the current telephone-based care management and health coaching will also form part of the sample. Therefore, interviews will be conducted to 40 patients and 60 health practitioners while observations will be done at a Telehealth Care Center.
The data collected will be analyzed using computer-aided software, namely, the SPSS. The extracted graphs will offer insights that will enable Telehealth technology to be compared with other chronic disease management frameworks. The analysis will enable interested parties to know the effectiveness of technology in addressing people’s health issues. What are the safety concerns and the potential side effects? How well does it work in the long-term? Does one need to try a hybrid of conventional medication and Telehealth? The analyzed data will help in answering these questions.
Discussion and Findings
It was initially clear from the literature review and the qualitative study that the association between medical professionals and patients culminated in the success of a Telehealth method of intervention. In terms of the enabling, reinforcing, and predisposing factors when it comes to Telehealth application, the latter category of factors appear motivation-oriented while the enabling aspects enhance action. Finally, reinforcing factors are based on the current influence of future decision-making.
These elements can be based on either positive or negative feedback. From the selected sample (n=100), the majority of the patient respondents state that they have witnessed an improvement in their health. Medical practitioners also offered a similar opinion. Hence, the findings indicate that Telehealth interventions improve the health of persons who suffer from unremitting illnesses. However, the role of suppositions has been majorly assumed and neglected when adopting Telehealth intervention. Many theories such as the Ritterband conjecture have been established to discuss behavioral change (Mohr, Schueller, Montague, Burns, & Rashidi, 2014).
However, there is a need for a hybrid theory that can enhance the quality of services that patients get, especially the most incapacitated class of sick people. The development of such overarching crossbreed speculation would be very imperative for the management of chronic diseases via Telehealth technologies.
Learning the facts about what new healthcare technologies such as Telehealth can or cannot perform makes those who suffer from chronic conditions better placed to weigh the benefits against the risks and consequently make a better decision when it comes to seeking medical interventions. This claim points out the need for substantiation concerning the efficacy of technologies such as Telehealth when it comes to handling patients with persistent sicknesses, irrespective of their geographical locations.
This proposal has offered a foundation that substantiates the need for examining the effectiveness of Telehealth technology when it comes to managing health issues for patients with chronic ailments. The results obtained after analyzing the interview responses will help to determine whether such a technology should be rolled out in hospitals in the US.
Chang, E., & Johnson, A. (2008). Chronic illness and disability. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
Fleisher, L., & Dechene, J. (2008). Telemedicine and e-health law. New York, NY: Law Journal Press.
Harper, J. (2012). Pros and Cons of Telemedicine for Today’s Workers. Web.
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Lustig, T. (2012). The role of telehealth in an evolving health care environment. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Mohr, D., Schueller, S., Montague, E., Burns, M., & Rashidi, P. (2014). The Behavioral Intervention Technology Model: An Integrated Conceptual and Technological Framework for eHealth and mHealth Interventions. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 16(6), 146-146.
Terry, K. (2014). Does Telehealth Diminish Physician-Patient Relationships? Web.
Toseland, R., Haigler, D., & Monahan, D. (2011). Education and support programs for caregivers. New York, NY: Springer.