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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 examples include virtual home health care, where patients such as the chronically ill or the elderly may receive guidance in certain procedures while remaining at home. Telehealth has also made it easier for health care workers in remote field settings to obtain guidance from professionals elsewhere in diagnosis, care and referral of patients. Training can sometimes also be delivered via telehealth schemes or with related technologies such as eHealth, which make use of small computers and internet.
Well-designed telehealth schemes can improve health care access and outcomes, particularly for chronic disease treatment and for vulnerable groups. Not only do they reduce demands on crowded facilities, but they also create cost savings and make the health sector more resilient.
Since remote communication and treatment of patients reduces the number of visits for health services, both transport-related emissions and emissions related to operational requirements are reduced. In addition, fewer space demands can potentially result in smaller health facilities, with concurrent reductions in construction materials, energy and water consumption, waste, and overall environmental impact.