A visit to a doctor is
expensive, not only in terms of money but more importantly in terms of time. A
home visit by a doctor, once common in the past, is very rare today. This
concept is now being replaced by telehealth to some extent.
Telehealth is a means of
providing consultation to patients using means of telecommunication and
information technology. This approach is particularly useful in two settings:
in the rural setting where it is difficult to provide super specialty
consultation, and in emergency situations, where the life of a patient could be
saved due to immediate advice. Data can be transferred to and by a doctor
electronically using telehealth. Dr Jay Sanders is one of the pioneers in this
field, who advised on the benefits of telemedicine.
Telehealth permits seeing
patients in their own surroundings instead of making them visit a hospital or a
clinic. The patient can also record some parameters like blood pressure at
home, which can be observed live by the health care professionals. This
approach not only saves time and money for the patient, it also enables the
doctor to observe the patients in their usual surroundings, thus removing any
positive or negative effect that a doctor's environment can have on them during
Secondly, the stress that a
visit to the doctor can bring about can be eliminated by consulting a doctor
via telehealth. The 'white coat effect' is a typical example of this situation.
It is a phenomenon where blood pressure measured at a doctor's office is higher
than that measured at home, due to anxiety at the doctor's office. This
phenomenon may be eliminated through telehealth.
Thus, examining a patient at
home via telehealth gives a more realistic picture of the patient's condition.
Though telehealth does not
provide direct face-to-face contact with the patient, it does enable the
physician to adjust his position with respect to the camera, and emphasize
certain points with relation to treatment. This approach is particularly
helpful in treating psychiatry patients.
The availability of
resources is a major drawback in the implementation of telehealth especially in