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Telehealth Care


Telehealth care refers to the use of electronic methods of communication and similar technologies to support and facilitate the long-distance health care (American Telemedicine Association, 2015). Moreover, the British Medical Journal defines telehealth care as the exchange of data between a patient and a healthcare professional that aids in diagnosing and managing a certain health concern or condition (Henderson et al., 2013). Attention to telehealth care in our technologically advanced world has been excited in recent years. This has been witnessed in the public sector, for example, the federal government has increased funds that are aimed at providing telehealth initiatives. Also, the private sector has been involved in the progression of telehealth care. Furthermore, technology companies have continued to devise innovative applications for telehealth (Lustig, 2012).

Telehealth care involves employing technology to enable healthcare practitioners to monitor data and patients remotely, without physical consultation. It provides for training, clinical services, and medical education to its users (Lustig, 2012). Telehealth care is not only used to monitor patients with chronic diseases and conditions but has also been expanded to include the disabled (Lustig, 2012). Some of the technologies employed in telehealth care include video conferencing, Internet-based connections, storing and forwarding of images, and wireless communication (American Telemedicine Association, 2015).


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There is another term that is closely related to telehealth, and that is telemedicine. Telemedicine simply deals with the provisions for medical services via telecommunication avenues that are targeted at healing, preventing, and/or managing certain conditions and diseases (American Telemedicine Association, 2015). However, while the two concepts are closely related, telehealth refers mainly to a broader scope of provision of remote healthcare services (Lustig, 2012).

Clinical and Non-Clinical Use of Telehealth Care

The clinical use of telehealth care is to primarily provide for remote monitoring of vital signs from the comfort of the patient’s home (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2015). Telehealth care is targeted at those in remote areas that may not have easy and frequent access to healthcare services, perhaps because of their location, status, and financial background. Thus, through telehealth care, these patients gain access to the much needed healthcare support at the click of a button.

Telehealth also facilitates online doctor visits. Many forums enable patients to schedule appointments with their doctors via video conferencing and/or live chat sessions. This helps avoid the physical visit to the doctors. Another clinical use of telehealth care is the development of electronic health records and information on the patients (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2015). This gives easier access to medical professionals as they are able to review and assess information on their patients on the go.

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Non-clinical uses of telehealth care include online support groups for patients (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2015). Often, most of the people that are going through the hardship of a certain illness or condition congregate together to offer each other support through their journeys. The telehealth approach offers such a forum as institutions and health facilities create online support groups for their patients where the latter and healthcare professionals can exchange advice and offer support.

Self-management tools are also available on telehealth care forums. These tools are intended to assist patients in managing their conditions away from their healthcare providers. For instance, there are online blood sugar calculators for people suffering from diabetes; these calculators keep track of patients’ insulin and blood sugar levels and inform them if they are in trouble as well as offer advice on proper diabetes management.

Benefits of Telehealth Care

Telehealth care has a number of benefits to the parties involved. For instance, it reduces mortality rates as patients and their physicians are able to communicate without meeting face to face. This also helps reduce unnecessary hospital admissions as the patients are taken care of remotely (NHS Choices, 2013).

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Telehealth care also facilitates the efficient management of ongoing care for patients (NHS Choices, 2013). For example, most post-operation care can be administered via telehealth as the progress of the patient is updated to the health care providers electronically. Telehealth care also enables a timelier access to specialists as there are no lines or full appointment books to deal with. One simply schedules an appropriate time to consult with a specialist online.

Telehealth care also reduces costs. In standard care, access to specialists proved to be quite expensive. However, telehealth care has cut the costs accrued from consultation and tests as they are more subsidized because of the use of technology. This approach also saves time as the time-consuming effort needed for physical doctor visits has been reduced substantially.

Finally, telehealth care has facilitated the easier access of certain specialists to the increasing number of patients (Henderson et al., 2013). Because of telecommunication, a neurologist can communicate with a number of patients during the day from different locations and time zones. This has opened the expertise to areas and patients that had very little access to them before.

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Barriers to Telehealth Care

The biggest barrier to telehealth care is the cost of services (NHS Choices, 2013). This includes the telehealth equipment that both patients and healthcare professionals require for communication, monitoring, and provision of other services. The premium that patients pay for the services may also be costly as healthcare professionals also require an adequate compensation for their services. Moreover, studies have shown that telehealth care is more expensive than standard care; therefore, a lot of patients are not too eager to participate. The International Business Machines (IBM) Center for Business of Government reported factors that offered some of the biggest barriers to the adoption of telehealth care.

Technological factors such as clinical limitations and data security have made telehealth adoption harder. It found that most healthcare providers do not have or cannot afford the necessary technology to conduct telehealth care efficiently. Data security has also been an issue of concern as there are few policies that govern the security of patients’ information (Geisler & Wickramasinghe, 2009).

Behavioral factors have also played a role in making telehealth care adoption difficult. There is a certain aversion to change in the clinical profession, whose profits depend on patient visits and hospitalization. With the onset of telehealth, these profits are beginning to decline, which does not augur well for the institution’s bottom line. There is also a general laxity in accepting the dynamic changes introduced by technology (Geisler & Wickramasinghe, 2009).

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Economic and financial implications to the patients have also hindered telehealth care adoption (Geisler & Wickramasinghe, 2009). The cost of equipment and required software is high. Moreover, it is difficult to establish precise outcomes from these technologies as they may be relevant today and redundant soon after.

Finally, managerial and organizational factors also come into play (Geisler & Wickramasinghe, 2009). For instance, most telehealth initiatives do not receive the required support from management, who are unable to assess clearly the benefits of the system. Moreover, there is a severe lack of investments in new technology that can aid telehealth. This is an impediment to the quick adoption of telehealth care.

Required Safety and Security Provisions for Telehealth

Currently, there are poor measures of data security of patient information that have very adverse implications on telehealth care. These concerns are, however, somewhat addressed by a number of policies that have been introduced. For instance, there is the Health Level Seven (HL7) compliance that demands organizations that provide telehealth care services keep confidential records on proper and safe websites that protect the acquired information (Greg & Brewer, 2011).

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There is also the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2015). This Act secures the health information of individuals. This is especially evident in health insurance which contains a lot of sensitive data concerning patients.

Furthermore, there is the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2015). It stipulates that the institutions and business associates that are covered by health insurance must inform relevant authorities if a breach of protected health information occurs. This helps avert any loss of confidential information that may put at risk the activities of an institution and its clients.

Another policy that ensures security of information in telehealth is the Patient Safety Rule. It secures identifiable information used to investigate patient safety events (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2015). It also promotes patient safety, especially in regard to the information that they disclose to their healthcare providers.

Telehealth Care of Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the world’s most expensive life-long diseases with very high mortality rates. Annually, about 132 billion dollars are spent on its treatment worldwide, and of this amount, 32 billion dollars are spent on the U.S. alone (Henderson et al., 2013). There are about 25 million people living with diabetes in the United States; thus, it is a chronic disease that has greatly affected the nation. Given its grave status, there is a lot of information and research on the disease. In regard to telehealth care, there are a number of credible websites that patients can use to access quality information and care from specialists. The following websites are a few of those.

  1. ALR Technologies (

ALR Technologies is a mobile device company that offers monitoring and remote care to their patients. They have a telehealth system called Health-e-Connect. This FDA-approved system uploads data from blood glucose meters of their patients to a secure website. From this website, the healthcare professionals monitor and coordinate the care of diabetic patients.

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Moreover, the website helps diabetic patients adhere to the plan of diabetes care as well as improve the quality of care of diabetes. On the website, there are self-management tools that patients can use to control their condition.

The ALRT also help reduce costs to healthcare providers. This is achieved through cost effectiveness as the company acts as an intermediary between institutions and patients. Furthermore, it enables providers to deliver services that are utilized by patients who frequently visit their website. The company ensures that the services are of the highest quality as well as the patient information is protected and kept confidential.

  1. Diabetes Telehealth Network

This is a comparatively new initiative that was first launched in Mississippi in October 2014 (Chandler, 2014). The flagship project aims to provide diabetes patients with faster access to quality care of the condition.

In this network, the patients receive tablets that they use to monitor their condition. They keep track of their glucose levels by constantly updating their progress. They send this information to their physicians and clinicians who offer advice and modes of treatment that they should follow in the event of complications. Moreover, they use the same tablets to communicate with the identified and qualified personnel that are affiliated with the network.

While the network was first launched in the Mississippi Delta, the Diabetes Telehealth Network has developed plans to spread the initiative nationwide. This would provide diabetes patients with exclusive information and access to quality health care.

  1. WebMD (

Since its inception in 1996, the WebMD has been a credible website solely dedicated to health issues, especially those that plague the American population. With an editorial team and staff of qualified medical doctors and practitioners, it has been lauded as a pioneer researching a number of health issues, one of which is diabetes.

Opening the website page, one can see and choose the appropriate article from a number of topics and issues. However, these topics and issues comprise broader topics. Diabetes is one of the broader topics, and it covers every type of diabetes, from type 1 and 2 to gestational diabetes and pre-diabetes. The website offers information on what diets diabetic patients can take to help manage their conditions as well as holds open forums where patients can consult with their panel of experts concerning the disease.

The website is constantly updated as they keep abreast of new and groundbreaking researches made available in the field of medicine, especially in regard to diabetes. It is also an FDA center for information about diabetes. In addition, they offer self-management tools like a blood glucose tracker and meal planner that aid in caring for diabetic patients.

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Criteria for a Reputable Healthcare Website

For a website to be considered credible and reputable, it must first be accurate. As one evaluates the information on a website, it is vital for a person to be able to ensure that the website provides a sound medical advice that can be verified from other credible sources. Also, the sources used to acquire the information must be reliable and sufficiently noted in bibliographies and footnotes. A credible website must also be devoid of grammatical and spelling errors (Ham, 2014).

Authority is another key factor to consider when evaluating the credibility of health websites. The credentials of the contributing authors must be credible and verifiable (Ham, 2014). The website should also be supported by a well-known and respected organization in that field. This ensures that the information is not fictitious. The contact information provided should also be checked. Most credible websites provide a physical address of their company or organization. Apart from that, the domain name can also help determine the verifiability and credibility of the website.

The objectivity of information within the website can also help conclude whether the website is credible (Ham, 2014). The author ought to offer unbiased information that is not pushing any agenda or products to the visitors of the site. The advertisements and verbiage should not influence the emotions of the reader as this would be manipulative and insincere.

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The novelty and coverage also comprise the issues of concern when verifying the health website credibility (Ham, 2014). The information should be updated frequently to meet the constant advancements that are the commonplace in the field of medicine. The links that are included in the information should lead to other credible sites with the related information but not to pop-ups and gimmicks that are rampant on the Internet. The coverage of the work should be complete and consistent with practices in the field. Apart from that, the sources used within the website should give additional information on the matter.


As a new approach to healthcare, telehealth has boundless potential, especially in providing care to patients that are out of reach of a standard care. With more people embracing technology, telehealth is an ideal platform for medical practitioners to advance their services to their patients as well as to the public.

While telehealth has barriers that are hindering the faster adoption of its practices, the electronic provision of health services initiates the new age of health care. The technological advances that people experience on a daily basis will ensure that telehealth care will become increasingly entrenched in the field of medicine. Finally, there is no doubt about the fact that the faster all the parties involved embrace it, the better and more effective it will be for everyone.



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