While telehealth technology was initially limited to audio and video conferencing using tools like Skype, today, telehealth platforms are able to collect patient vitals and other health data using connected devices. Telehealth improves healthcare access for rural areas, thus helping meeting universal access to healthcare for all initiative.
In rural areas, elderly residents are not always able to receive frequent follow-ups, as physicians are often in short supply. This is where telehealth improves healthcare access and proves to be a viable solution. That can bring in remote physicians to increase coverage and help those in need. In case of a fall incident, a telehealth cart can provide immediate access to physicians without having to wait on their arrival. Some mobile carts offer concussion assessment and other useful tests that physicians can use remotely with the assistance of a nurse to immediately assess the condition of the patient.
Lack of cash poses an obstacle for many of them to implement telehealth due to the need for some level of IT infrastructure around wireless, as well as the investment needed for medical devices, cameras and software. Another expected hurdle for telehealth technology is around the changes in workflows and processes. Finally, the technical challenges relating to lack of broadband access in rural areas can lead to low adoption rates for telehealth, as poor connectivity will result in a nonoperational system.
Telehealth may not solve all health services shortages in rural areas, but it proves to be a viable option to bring specialists and other healthcare providers to the patients without the need for their physical presence.