Telehealth is the modern way of getting medical help irrespective of the distance between the seeker and the doctor. It is only due to the advancement in communication technologies that align with the compact electronic gadgets making wonders like Telehealth consultation possible. Broadband facilities are not available everywhere in the US and thus communities in numerous counties and towns lack the benefits of having broadband.
Large network companies do not provide their service in these remote locations and those companies who do often have been found to be providing a low quality of service due to lack of hardware infrastructure at the locations. Telehealth facilities cannot be utilized in poor network broadband and do require the necessary features for conducting medical consultations. The basic purpose of Telehealth is to deliver not only medical care but also providing health education and health information facilities to patients and people in need.
The most vital forms of Telehealth communication is video conferencing, storing and forwarding of crucial data, functioning of equipment used for monitoring patients remotely. Besides these, there are other forms of Telehealth usage that are somehow little different from practising Telemedicine policies. Telehealth facilities are constantly being developed in various remote areas where it becomes very troublesome to have access to super medical facilities and the ideal form of treatment required.
In the past, this has occurred several times not only in the US but other countries as well that a patient has perished due to lack of medical knowledge and the huge travelling distance they had to cover to get treatment. ThModernediums like Telehealth are here to save lives and provide crucial monitoring and diagnosis services remotely through the Broadband dependencies.
There are many citizens in various counties and towns who claim to have been saved by the immediate aid of Telehealth in serious medical conditions. But the most important part of Telehealth is the dynamics of broadband. If the broadband connectivity is unreliable and doesn’t remain stable in the process of Telehealth consultation then it won’t be of any help. The doctors also face difficulty in monitoring, data analysis and diagnosis if the broadband isn’t strong enough with constant levels of superior connectivity.
For Telehealth facilities to flourish and get fully utilized in a community first the local authorities and the citizens need to be concerned about the broadband facilities and their development. It is not just the rural and remote regions that are using the benefits of Telehealth, the urban areas are also benefiting greatly from the Telehealth possibilities.
The functionality of Telehealth is at its prime in the urban areas due to the high high-quality work offered by the supreme giants of the telecommunication industry. Whenever any counties or remote locations in the US have acquired Telehealth facilities the first thing they had to do was bring or establish a high-quality Broadband that is very reliable.
The broadband features to consider and the improvements for Telehealth
There have been practical studies by many Health Foundations in the US and it has been found that the deficiency in factors like speed, capacity and infrastructure in Broadband won’t make Telehealth benefits possible in many regions. It has also been found in surveys and analytics that more than four billion rural homes in the US don’t have a broadband connection in their home and the numbers are not decreasing at a promising rate.
In many communities, the initiative of making one or multiple Telehealth centres have proven highly beneficial and much easier than thinking about Telehealth facilities in every house. Locations like public libraries are being used to setup electronic equipment along with superior quality broadband so that the people of the region can get Telehealth facilities when required. Experts of medical and technical departments involved in the Telehealth revolution are making such facilities possible for the under-privileged and remotely living communities.
The older people would most benefit from the Telehealth procedures and the long term diseases would be much easier to treat for the doctors. When people get old they tend to have certain health problems only due to their age. Due to such health concerns, they are often made to travel huge distances just for a check-up or some medical data guidance. Such problems and trouble of old aged people can be overcome by using the benefits of Telehealth and old people can not only have a more stress-free life but also remain in touch with the medical professionals whenever needed.
Many models have been proposed for the Broadband facilities in remote locations but the one definitely wasn’t practically possible yet was the ‘Every home Telehealth’ model. This had the basic concept of every home being equipped with high-quality Broadband and other electronic devices which would establish the Telehealth facility. Due to several vital reasons of adverse economics, political scenarios and rather poor communities had led to the eradication of every home Telehealth model from being implemented in the rural regions.
There have also been incidents where people had compatible electronic equipments but only lacked the premium Broadband facility required for making Telehealth possible. This has to lead to the rise of Community Broadband in many towns and counties which not only provides reliable internet facilities but also has the ideal hardware infrastructure in the locations. The community broadband costs are much lower than large company costs so the money factor comes into a more stable position for the local people and the official authorities in the regions too.
Some regions and remote counties do exist where giant companies of the network industry do offer broadband facilities. But it has often been tested and found that the essential feature of it like sufficient internet speed and the non-disrupted connection is not present. This leads to a situation where Telehealth doesn’t get implemented due to these reluctant barriers. The capacity of the Broadband also becomes a major concern and leads to damage in Telehealth’s Achilles Heel.
Sometimes large companies do provide broadband to remote locations but compromise on the capacity of the broadband. If at a certain point of time and on a random day everyone in the community uses the broadband in high-speed oriented tasks then it can be witnessed that at that time the Telehealth centers won’t be functioning well due to lack in the accommodation for the broadband assessors and ill-distribution of the network.
Certain existing Broadband gaps and concerns in Telehealth
Many factors come into play when analyzing the reasons why the Strength of Telehealth along with Broadband is being not utilized or implemented as it should have been by 2022. There does remain a lack of knowledge and scarcity of initiatives but besides that, there are more perspectives and features which need to be acknowledged and rectified. They are mentioned briefly here:
- The knowledge regarding Telehealth equipments use– A person needs to be present in the exact room who will be knowing the process of connecting to the doctor virtually and also will have knowledge about digital gadgets and equipments. There will be scenarios when the patient will be able to conduct the telehealth process without anyone’s help but often there will be patients in the towns and remote counties who won’t be digitally sound enough.
So if somehow the Achilles heel or the Broadband is established the next task would be to conduct surveys around the local regions to find out whether the citizens are digitally sound enough or not. A necessary arrangement like Telehealth facility workshops should be conducted in the region for making people understand the process and dynamics of Telehealth much better. In certain towns which are already having public Telehealth locations, there is also an expert being present who does knows the processes exceptionally well and guide the patients throughout the process.
- Huge charges and data limits- The large network companies do take the same charges from rural and remote locations as they do from urban cities. This means the same kind of broadband offers are available for the low-income communities as available for the rich and high-income families.
There has rarely been an incident where the large broadband companies might have agreed upon reducing prices for community health concerns. Besides this the companies do provide the broadband facilities with certain limits of use, this means that the user can only utilize a limited amount of data for file sharing, video conferencing, application downloads and other data induced digital purposes. If a patient exceeds a certain daily limit then for the extra time and data used there might be a great fee that needs to be paid even if it’s being used for a crucial cause like Telehealth.
- The well distributive and properly structured grant system- Various governments organisations and departments do allocate funds or grants for purposes like Telehealth and Telemedicine. But these grants do lack a well-proofed structure which might actually help in establishing a secure and reliable Broadband powered Telehealth system in remote locations.
Previously a huge amount of grants has been provided to Health organizations for establishing high-grade Telehealth facilities but the Telehealth centre and equipment facility was not that highlighted or developed. The Telehealth process does need smooth and reliable connectivity between patients and the doctor, so the grants should be more well structured so that the whole medium of Telehealth could benefit and actually could function.
- The ill practice of redlining and Telehealth education- It’s a matter of disgust and concern that practises like digital redlining also exists nowadays. As you might already know, digital redlining refers to the discriminations and favouritism between underserved, marginalized communities by restricting their usage and availability of broadband, digital content and even digital forms of technology. Indirectly Telehealth is also getting redlined due to the unavailability of broadband.
There are struggles amalgamated by social activists, politicians and community workers who are trying to make it a better world by eradicating redlining. Besides this, there need to be many promotions and education mediums by which the rural and remotely living people can know about the Broadband strength when used in Telehealth facilities.
Endnote of empathy
The people living in the glamorous cities along with every facility that comes through premium Broadband do realize how much difficult it can be to live without the possibility of Telehealth and Telemedicine. But they don’t often raise concerns about the people living in remote locations having rare amenities and low-income perils. If everyone starts to raise their concerns regarding the importance of functioning Telehealth systems it will surely bring changes and the people living in the bare counties or isolated towns could have a better healthcare system.