March 11, 2013
Technology and Health Care Paper
The purpose of this paper is to discuss how technology has impacted the health care delivery system. Health care technology is advancing at an increasingly rapid rate in the United States, and globally. Patients and providers are witnessing these changes through the use of telehealth, and telemedicine applications. Telehealth, and telemedicine are often used interchangeably, however there is a difference between the two applications. Telehealth is the use of technology to deliver health care, health information, or health education at a distance (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patients’ clinical health status. Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology (American Telemedicine Association, 2012). There are two basic types of technology that make up telemedicine services. One, called “store and forward,” consists of capturing a digital image using either digital cameras, or digitizing a hard copy of the image. Once the image is captured (stored), it is then sent to another location (forward), where the physician can make a diagnosis. The most common use of this type of technology is teleradiology, where X-rays are captured in one location, and sent to a radiologist in a separate location. Patients’ can receive a diagnosis within 24 to 48 hours after his or her office visit. The second type of telemedicine technology is known as “real-time,” meaning that the patient and physician are interacting at the same time. Also called two-way interactive television (IATV), this method uses television screens set up in two different locations. The patient is able to interact with the physician through videoconference. This offers real-time consultations and creates the impression of a face-to-face interaction between the physician and patient. The physicians’ diagnosis can be given immediately during the e-visit. A third party is required when using the real-time form of telemedicine. The third party is responsible for operating the equipment at the originating site and recording any special instructions or prescriptions given by the physician. Many of the physicians utilizing telemedicine will use a combination of store and forward and real-time technology to optimize the care they provide. All telehealth applications require health information technology (IT), but not every use of health IT can be called telehealth. Stand-alone systems like Electronic Health Records (EHRs) or Computerized Decision Support (CDS) are types of health IT that are not typically thought of as telehealth applications (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). EHR is an electronic version of a patients medical history, that is maintained by the provider over time, including but not limited to, demographics, progress notes, medications, vital signs, past medical history, etc. The EHR automates access to information and has the potential to streamline the clinician’s workflow (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2012). Where as, CDS are computer applications designed to aid clinician’s in making diagnostic, and therapeutic decisions in patient care. They can simplify access to data needed to make decision, provide reminders, and prompts at the time of a patient encounter, assist in establishing a diagnosis, and in entering appropriate orders (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2012). Telemedicine Example and Impact on Health Care
Mobile health (mhealth) is the use of mobile and wireless devices to improve health outcomes, healthcare services and health research. It is a tool that can provide access to health care...