The digital transformation of health care, coupled with an expansion of broadband communications services and an increasing volume of empirical data, has driven innovation and greater adoption of telehealth across a broad range of clinical services, specialties, technologies, applications, and facilities, including the home.
Understanding Telehealth was written for a broad range of stakeholders, including physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals, both in practice and in training; health care executives; public health advocates; hospitals; clinics; payors; telecommunications and technology providers; health care advocates; researchers; and entrepreneurs.
Our goal is to advance the reader's understanding of the opportunities to integrate telehealth solutions to improve timely access to care, to mitigate acute and chronic illness, and to improve clinical outcomes, wherever possible, within the context of the medical home. A secondary goal is to encourage and promote further research in this growing field with respect to critically important topics such as quantifying clinical outcomes, assessing costs, and evaluating emerging technologies in order to leverage and pivot valid and reliable empirical evidence into policy changes that foster the seamless integration of these solutions into everyday clinical practice and general health care.
Addressing the challenges of workforce shortages and high rates of chronic illness requires a paradigm shift from the model of physician-centered care to models focused on patient-centered care using interdisciplinary teams, evidence-based medicine, and informatics in decision support, all enhanced by telehealth tools.
To help understand how telehealth can advance these objectives, we have included chapters that address a broad range of technologies, evidence-based clinical guidelines, and applications of telehealth across the health care continuum and among different patient populations. We have also summarized the legal and regulatory framework currently underpinning telehealth practice. We have provided clinical vignettes supporting the clinical chapters to remind readers that at the core of our efforts and of all of those engaged in telehealth are the patients and their families.
The editors are profoundly grateful to our chapter authors, each luminaries in their respective fields, and to our colleagues and families for their support of this effort and our work to advance telehealth across the disciplines.