What is Telehealth? It is the application of telecommunications technology to provide healthcare consultations remotely. As an example, a patient in Crystal River can consult with an audiologist in St. Petersburg and vice versa.
At Gardner Audiology, we have been establishing and refining our ability to conduct telehealth via video conferencing with our Tampa Bay patients since late last year. This is an exciting use of technology that promises to make delivery of many types of healthcare more convenient and efficient. In actual use, the ability to provide services remotely has allowed us to see patients in a more timely manner and with more efficient use of resources and personnel.
Consultations covering evaluations, hearing aid fittings, and adjustments can be accomplished remotely; that is, the patient can be in one office and be seen by an audiologist from a distant office. The audiologist can access computers for programming/adjusting hearing aids and discuss the results of those adjustments with the patient as they are taking place. This comes very close to face to face consults and most patients are very impressed by this use of technology. As we have refined our protocols, visits have become more relaxed and enjoyable for both the patient and the audiologist.
Looking to the future; improvements in technology will enhance the quality and stability of the video and audio of these meetings. In addition, as telehealth becomes more mainstream, services will be available to those who have limited access to services in their community. Underserved areas will be within reach.