No Abstract. The Encyclopedia entry offers a definition of telehealth that positions it as embracing both clinical health and people's wider well-being. It eschews other definitions that are focused on the technologies, instead relating telehealth to services and addressing the way in which patients (or people) access and use these. The context is, however, one of rapid technological change with improved communications networks and the advent of smartphones and apps. The definition, therefore, plays to the people perspective as the technologies and services become more accessible and, though better designs, more usable to those (e.g. older) people who have most to gain from the related services. The discussion of telehealth's merits finds a mixed picture - but in the context of it being 'something of a moving target' it is affirmed health and social care services must 'accommodate' the technologies. More research is called for and a 'telehealth imperative' is posited that requires its products 'increasingly respond to people's changing needs, choices and aspirations'. Encyclopedia entry starts with Definition: Telehealth “is the means by which technologies and related services concerned with health and well-being are accessed by people or provided for them irrespective of location” (Doughty 2018). This amends the original definition set out by the Telehealth Quality Group which referred to access or provision “at a distance” rather than “irrespective of location” and may have inadvertently and incorrectly signaled a lesser relevance of telehealth in urban center areas (Fisk 2014; Paraciani et al. 2017). As with telemedicine, telehealth products are used or services operated in contexts where the provider and the consumer are physically separated; therefore, a communication link is needed to connect them. The Telehealth Quality Group definition fits with those offered by Darkins and Cary (2000) and the World Health Organization (2010), where both of the latter see telehealth and telemedicine as, in part, synonymous. The distinction that they recognized was that telemedicine may be restricted to services where physicians and health professionals are involved and, in some cases, to exchanges of information (for purposes of diagnoses and treatment) which did not involve the patient. Telehealth, by contrast, will always involve the patient and can include its use bypeople who have no current or specific need for diagnoses or health-related treatments.
Citation : Fisk, M. (2019) Telehealth. In: Gu, D. and Dupre, M.E. (Eds.) The Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Health, Heidelberg: Springer, Cham.
Research Institute : Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes