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Telehealth Technology: Advantages and Drawbacks Research Paper

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Updated: Jan 16th, 2022

Introduction

Modern communication technologies are used in medicine to reduce patients’ being in treatment centers and enhance communication, decision making, and family involvement. Telehealth is defined by Tuot and Boulware (2017) as “the use of electronic communication and telecommunications technology to support long-distance clinical health care” (p. 39). These technologies are effective in raising awareness and promoting health education and are widely used for cognitive therapy of patients with chronic diseases. Although technology has several minor drawbacks, it has the potential to revolutionize the remote treatment of patients.

Advantages of Telehealth

The technologies of telehealth aim at providing informational support and real-time interaction with healthcare providers for patients outside medical institutions. Thus, physical barriers are absent while patients are in comfortable home settings surrounded by their families. According to Chi and Demiris (2015), telehealth “can support the delivery of various cognitive-behavioral or educational interventions” (p. 42). The technology provides significant practical advantages, especially in rural areas, where access to healthcare centers is complicated for patients with chronic diseases. In such cases, it gives both time and cost-saving access to information and care.

Telehealth technology is capable of enhancing social support, managing, and preventing mental health issues due to the comfort of use and increase in health literacy. According to Chi and Demiris (2015), 95% of the caregivers noted a significant improvement in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of their patients after telehealth technology intervention. Better communication with healthcare providers and access to education are among the reasons for this increase. The caregivers find telemedicine technologies beneficial not only for patients but also for themselves. They noted that their care became more efficient due to educational support. Telehealth allows patients to stay at home for many interventions that their caregivers can provide with proper education. Moreover, staying at home promotes active family involvement and shared decision-making.

Disadvantages of Telehealth

There are a few disadvantages of telehealth, which are mostly connected with the initial stage of the implementation but not the nature of the technology. The solution to these problems is a matter of time, and they occur mostly as borders or limitations and not serious drawbacks. According to Tuot and Boulware (2017), the main border in the implementation of telehealth technology is the “continued existence of a “digital divide” between persons with different age, education levels, and baseline self-efficacy” (p. 42). That is why improvements in the technology that would make it accessible for patients and caregivers with different levels of e-literacy are required.

As the technology is relatively new, both patients and providers have not developed a proper attitude to it, which is another disadvantage. As Kim, Gellis, Bradway, and Kenaley (2018) claim, the feedback from patients treated by agencies of home health care (HHC) indicated that several participants “did not recognize their agency as equipped with the necessary resources and trained staff” (p. 451). In comparison to the traditional treatment of mental health issues, physician-patients’ relationships are different through telehealth communication. As Wade, Raj, Moscato, and Narad (2019) claim, there are several disadvantages of the use of telehealth in psychology including ” difficulties reading nonverbal cues, logistical/technological issues, and greater disruptions during sessions” (p. 298). This drawback is significant as the majority of video conferencing and telehealth consultations concern mental health patients or patients with chronic diseases that suffer from mental issues caused by their illnesses.

Conclusion

The implementation of electronic communication technologies in the process of remote health management has had an undeniable positive effect. First of all, it helps to reduce physical and financial barriers that may be caused by in-center treatment. Secondly, the potential of telehealth to improve patients’ HRQOL is scientifically proved. In addition to this, telecommunication technologies provide support to caregivers establishing communication with healthcare providers, enhancing education, and developing their skills. Although several disadvantages of telehealth are observed today, most of them tend to disappear with further development and improvement of the technology.

References

  1. Chi, N.-C., & Demiris, G. (2015). A systematic review of telehealth tools and interventions to support family caregivers. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 21(1), 37-44. doi: 10.1177/1357633×14562734
  2. Kim, E., Gellis, Z. D., Bradway, C., & Kenaley, B. (2018). Key determinants to using telehealth technology to serve medically ill and depressed homebound older adults. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 62(4), 451-474. doi: 10.1080/01634372.2018.1499575
  3. Tuot, D. S., & Boulware, L. E. (2017). Telehealth applications to enhance CKD knowledge and awareness among patients and providers. Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease, 24(1), 39-45. doi: 10.1053/j.ackd.2016.11.017
  4. Wade, S. L., Raj, S. P., Moscato, E. L., & Narad, M. E. (2019). Clinician perspectives delivering telehealth interventions to children/families impacted by pediatric traumatic brain injury. Rehabilitation Psychology, 64(3), 298-306. doi: 10.1037/rep0000268
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IvyPanda. "Telehealth Technology: Advantages and Drawbacks." January 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/telehealth-technology-advantages-and-drawbacks/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Telehealth Technology: Advantages and Drawbacks." January 16, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/telehealth-technology-advantages-and-drawbacks/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Telehealth Technology: Advantages and Drawbacks'. 16 January.

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