By definition, telehealth is the usage of electronic information and telecommunication technologies in order to support remote clinical health care, public health, professional and patient health related education as well as health administration. While telehealth programs certainly offer a number of benefits, such as improved quality of care and lower costs, and are used in different applications, it requires numerous resources for its services to be implemented, expanded as well as sustained. On that premise, the following article presents a list of some vital resources for telehealth programs.
Establishing an appropriate physical space that delivers telehealth services requires several considerations. For instance, health care programs should design telehealth workspaces that increase the confidentiality of patients. This can include having appropriate lighting that allows the health care provider to accurately assess the state of the patient and collect diagnostic clues as well as rooms with lockable doors where private conversations are not easily overheard.
Another important resource for properly implementing, expanding and sustaining telehealth programs is staffing. Indeed, it is an absolute necessity to have a staff member that works as a telehealth coordinator that can brief patients on the telehealth services provided, manage telehealth referrals, schedule follow-up visits as necessary, make the technological aspects of the visits easier as well as coordinate with the telehealth providers.
In addition to staffing and physical space, rural programs also require telehealth technological resources. Some common types of telehealth technology that programs need include remote patient monitoring devices, telemedicine carts that are equipped with screens and cameras as well as videoconferencing software.
In order to implement, expand and sustain telehealth services, rural programs also need partnerships. For instance, some communities need to build strong affiliations with partner organizations so as to achieve access to telehealth resources and technologies. That being said, rural programs should also take into consideration whether these partnerships can contribute to or create issues for sustainability. In addition to that, rural programs should also need to take into account the location of their partners and whether the latter are ready to support the licensing costs as well as credentialing other providers, especially those who are situated in different states.