Telehealth may well be considered as interconnection within the institutional realm or distance health care in real time.
The concept of “telehealth” would have two different connotations. It can refer to the interconnection within the institutional scope, to perform diagnostics, surgeries and other procedures, or remote health care, connecting the place of residence of the user with the professional who does the monitoring.
Historically, the development of telehealth has gone through several stages; the increasing level of complexity of telecommunications, from electromechanical telephony, to digital high-speed fiber optic cables, mobile telephony and broadband networks, has constituted a real revolution in this field, and the advent of communications satellites and the internet, at the end of the 1960s, which were decisive.
The implementation of a telehealth system can be expensive. Required hardware, software, communications, compression algorithms or digitizing signals and standard protocols, video cameras, microphones, motorized microscopes, remote controls and digitizers cards. In the first years the acquisition of these equipment was difficult; In recent years its use has become popular and has made them more accessible. Despite the technical difficulties and the resistance of some patients and professionals to the use of non-face-to-face treatments, their use has increased, due to the benefits provided to patients, caregivers and the health system in general.
Telehealth has been shown to have a great impact on health. Avoid unnecessary travel of patients to the specialized care center; reduces the costs and risks associated with mobilization, not only of patients and their caregivers, but also of health professionals; decreases the days of hospitalization of patients; facilitates the flow of information in and between institutions, and the provision of care in remote and isolated sites, and also promotes the continuous training of health professionals.
Various telecommunication modalities have been developed, ranging from oncology, traumatology, pediatrics, hematology and reconstructive surgery teleconsultations, etc., to local specialists or located in other countries; second opinion diagnostic consultations, remote monitoring of vital signs, transmission and archiving of diagnostic images, pathological or microscopic images of high quality, electronic data management, videoconferences, distance training, telesimulators in the different surgical specialties, connection between clinical centers and interconnection of the departments of the health institutions, to remote robotic systems, which make it possible for the doctor to treat the patient from a station located in his office or at home.
This technology has been very useful for the connection of health institutions with remote and rural communities isolated geographically, for diagnosis in children and adults (Chagas, cardiovascular diseases, dermatological, congenital malformations, etc.), and for the treatment surgical or clinical (emergencies, burned, war wounded or victims of natural disasters, etc.) at a distance from these. Also for the treatment and follow-up of elderly patients, with chronic diseases that require medical treatment or long-term rehabilitation, and for those with physical or geographical limitations to travel, in those who facilitate permanent monitoring and ensure continuity in treatment.