A new whitepaper published this month by Falls Church, Va.-based consulting firm CSC outlines the new scope of teleservices in healthcare by supplying definitions for what its authors call the four main areas of teleservice: telecare, telehealth, telecoaching and telemedicine.
The report defines telecare as the use of remote monitoring and assisted living technologies; telehealth as the use of health tracking tools; telecoaching as tools designed to facilitate self-management and patient education; and telemedicine as the delivery of real-time consultations with a clinician.
"The new generation of teleservices, however, does not merely overcome geographic barriers; it also break down barriers in data capture, workflow and communication, and enables patients to become closer partners in their own care," the report's authors say.
An infographic within the report highlights how all participants in teleservices--payers, physicians, employers, allied health workers, peers/friends, family caregivers, social workers, home health workers and pharmacists--are stakeholders in patient care, using technology. The report uses as an example a 25-year old who is connected to his physician, enrolled in a health initiative at work and has one fitness-related mobile app downloaded on his phone.
The report contends that organizations that may have been waiting for these services to mature "can now move ahead" with confidence that their teleservices can be effective.
"As with many technologies that offer a breadth of direct and indirect benefits, quantifying a precise return on investment can be challenging," the authors say. "Experts agree that the best approach to evaluating an initiative is one that takes into consideration not just clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, but also factors such as service utilization, patient satisfaction and patient-reported outcomes."
With states continuing to pass laws requiring private insurers to pay for such services, telehealth appears to be on track for a mainstream breakthrough. Still, barriers to telehealth success remain, including state licensure and prescribing laws, a lack of highly developed protocols and guidelines and privacy and security issues, according to René Y. Quashie, senior counsel in the healthcare and life sciences practice at law firm Epstein Becker Green.
To learn more:
- read the whitepaper from CSC (.pdf)