What Are Telehealth Services?
Telehealth services are gaining in popularity, especially amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the term ‘telehealth’ is still somewhat nebulous. Generally speaking, telehealth services cast a wide net — the term refers to long-distance health services made possible by the use of technology. To accomplish this, healthcare professionals utilize electronic information and telecommunications technologies to connect with patients from afar. These technologies can aid many health care providers, including general practitioners, specialists, physical therapists, psychotherapists, and substance abuse specialists.
Telehealth services include more than just Zooming with your doctor. Instead, these services can consist of any of the following:
- Clinical health care practices, including the diagnosis of a medical condition
- Patient and professional health-related education
- Public health services and education
- Health administration, including the altering of medications or treatment plans
- Remote monitoring of vital signs using wireless enabled medical devices
- Remote consultations for new patients and check-ups for returning patients
What Do Telehealth Services Include?
There are many ways to put telehealth services to good use. Clinicians can conduct regular office visits and check-ups using telehealth tools. These consultations can occur face-to-face via visual technologies, giving patients and doctors the chance to discuss new or ongoing symptoms or conditions.
Psychotherapists can also use telehealth technologies to meet with and treat patients. Extended visits of this sort give therapists the chance to monitor a patient’s condition, make changes to their treatment plan, address concerns, and answer questions.
Other medical and health services typically administered in-person can, in some instances, be conducted remotely. Some medical technologies can be used at home to monitor EEGs and vital signs to help a physician monitor and address a patient’s medical condition.
Telehealth Services for Addressing Physical Health
Although conducted remotely, long-distance health care services rendered through telehealth can still address the physical body. For example, physical therapists can utilize audiovisual technologies to learn more about their clients’ home environment and independent exercise style. From here, they can make recommendations for improving a client’s physical behaviors and behavioral patterns in their own home. Additionally, physical therapists can suggest ways for a client to adapt their physical exercise to their home space and monitor those changes in real-time. This can help a patient become more aware of their environment and how their environment impacts the body. It can also empower a patient to take a more active and self-directed role in their treatment.
Speech therapies can also continue unobstructed by physical distance, including those imposed by COVID-19 social distancing protocols. Therapists can utilize audiovisual tools to demonstrate speech patterns and techniques to clients. These drills can be further supplemented by visual displays, including images and text, that a therapist can present to the client in real-time.
Telehealth Services for Addressing Mental Health
There are many benefits to conducting mental health services via long-distance technology. Mental health providers may experience an increase in availability, given the convenience of online consultations. This means that therapists may be able to reach more patients than they would have at their physical practice. Patients’ scheduling time may also become more convenient as they can do away with some of the logistical constraints involved with an in-person session.
Telehealth services directed at mental health care may include:
- Telepsychiatry is another umbrella term that covers a broad range of telehealth services for improving or managing psychiatric health. This can include direct or indirect consultations with patients or groups, and consultations with other physicians to coordinate a patient’s overall care.
- Psychiatric Evaluations
- Therapists can utilize telehealth services to meet with a new patient one-on-one to conduct a complete psychiatric evaluation. Their determinations can benefit the patient while also keeping a safe distance amidst the spread of COVID-19.
- Therapy Sessions
- Therapy sessions can be conducted entirely online with telehealth services. These sessions can include individual, group, or family-centered therapy sessions.
- Patient Education
- Clinicians can use telehealth tools to do more than monitor a patient’s condition. Therapists can utilize telehealth services to discuss medical information with a patient — educating the patient about their diagnosis, condition, treatment plan, or medication.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
- Devices that measure and wirelessly transmit information, such as blood pressure, blood glucose, or lung function. Wearable devices that automatically record and send information, such as heart rate, blood glucose, gait, posture control, tremors, physical activity or sleep patterns
Soberlink’s Telehealth Services for Addiction Treatment
Remote Patient Monitoring is one of the fastest growing segments of Telehealth. This form of self-alcohol monitoring or self-testing allows for the monitoring of patients’ health and clinical progress from a distance. Commonly used in the treatment of chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes, RPM services help to improve patient compliance by offering alternative testing methods.
The RPM service, Soberlink, addresses the remote treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). AUD can be effectively monitored through Soberlink’s system that wirelessly combines a remote testing device to supplementary, automated digital tools. The remote testing device itself operates as a discreet and portable breathalyzer. The digital software reports a client’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to his or her recovery circle in real-time.
The one-of-a-kind software built into the Soberlink system ensures ease-of-use and test legitimacy. The facial recognition software can detect when the appropriate person has used the device. The device further comes with tamper detection technology to make sure the device is being used as intended.
Clients can choose to receive alerts and reminders via text message or email notifying them when it is time to test. Real-time notifications with results and the reports generated upon use are automatically sent to Treatment Professionals, Family, and anyone else in the client’s recovery circle for user convenience, allowing them to monitor their recovery. The customizable testing schedules provide clients more flexibility, flexibility not usually found in the traditional methods of alcohol monitoring.
About the Author
Soberlink supports accountability for sobriety through a comprehensive alcohol monitoring system. Combining a breathalyzer with wireless connectivity, the portable design and technology includes facial recognition, tamper detection and real-time reporting. Soberlink proves sobriety with reliability to foster trust and peace of mind.