Where technology meets healthcare: Telehealth as a career choice

Telehealth, also know as e-health or telemedicine involves the distribution of health-related services and information through communication using electronic devices. For long distance patient-doctor communication or advice, telehealth has been a boon. Especially in rural settings, where quick and direct access to doctors are limited because of lack of adaptability, reduced funding or lack of doctors and staffs restrict access to healthcare. This is where telehealth can help in bridging the gap between health and accessibility. 

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), telehealth “involves the use of telecommunications and virtual technology to deliver health care outside of traditional health-care facilities. Telehealth, which requires access only to telecommunications, is the most basic element of “eHealth,” which uses a wider range of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Telehealth could include two clinicians discussing a case over video conference; a robotic surgery occurring through remote access; physical therapy done via digital monitoring instruments, live feed and application combinations; tests being forwarded between facilities for interpretation by a higher specialist; home monitoring through continuous sending of patient health data; client to practitioner online conference; or even videophone interpretation during a consult.”

Besides providing accessible healthcare facilities, it helps in distance-learning, meetings, supervision between amongst practitioners and online health information. The typical duties of telehealthcare professionals include virtually consulting with patients, providing treatment options and providing any required information.

One can easily find flexible jobs in healthcare industry such as pharmaceutical, nursing, medical, pediatric, nutrition, and mental health. Telehealth services are offered to people living in rural or remote areas, people with transportation issues and the elderly and disabled.

Advantages of telehealth as a career choice:

It is cost-efficient in the sense it offers a less expensive alternative to going to the office. One can work whenever, wherever without any commute or supervisior.

It can help expand patient base. Patients may not find it accessible to visit doctor chambers but convenient to speak to a doctor from the comfort of their home. 

Professionals can work either full-time or part time, as per their convenience.  

According to Institute of Health Management Research, Bangalore (IIHMR-B), “The concept of telemedicine has become increasingly useful in the healthcare sector, particularly, to reach out to rural and remote regions, where direct healthcare delivery is hard to access. However, today, it is also being used in several other applications in healthcare management, training, and education.”

Some of the institutes, which have installed telehealth in India include:

MGR Medical University of Tamil Nadu

School of Tropical Medicine (STM), Kolkata

Besides, the Telemedicine Society of India (TSI) conducts several conferences on telehealth every year and one can memebers of the society after completing an eligibility process.

Programs in telemedicine are also actively supported by:

Department of Information Technology (DIT)

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)

NEC Telemedicine program for North-Eastern states, and

Apollo Hospitals.

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