Telehealth – the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support a broad variety clinical and non-clinic services – is not limited to specific care settings.
Telemedicine, which refers specifically to remote clinic services, is more valuable in some care settings than others. In particular, rural health care settings can benefit from telemedicine technology as it effectively shrinks the distances between nodes of rural care, which can reduce patients' driving time, make health care more accessible for patients who live in communities with few specialist options, and promote patient-centered care. The Health Resources and Services Administration provides the following examples of how telemedicine in rural areas can improve health care quality1:
- Teleradiology and teledermatology programs may be of particular interest to critical access hospitals and rural health care clinics, as technology enables providers in rural care settings to leverage the knowledge and training of large medical centers.
- Home monitoring and patient education can bridge gaps in the care of chronic conditions and improve care coordination, so these and similar programs can benefit ambulatory or primary care settings.
- The Telehealth Resource Centers website lists several specialties and subspecialties as well as several care services that can be offered through telehealth technology.
- Why is telehealth important for rural providers?
- What is telehealth? How is telehealth different from telemedicine?
- Who can help my practice/hospital/health clinic use telehealth?
- Health Resources and Services Administration. “What types of care settings can benefit from telehealth technology?”
For more information on the benefits of telehealth and telemedicine and improving health care in rural areas, see the following rural health information technology resources: