Telehealth: “The Doctor is In… Another City”

A decade of advances in telehealth have improved patient outcomes in underserved California counties, but continued promise of reducing the state’s wide health disparities depends on overcoming several financial, policy, and technical hurdles. Once strictly termed telemedicine, today’s expansive definition of telehealth includes a variety of distance services: video conferencing with a specialist, home monitoring of acute or chronic disease, or collecting remote health data like x-rays or dermatology photographs for review by a specialist. Telehealth’s popularity has spread by necessity, said Christine Martin, executive director of the California Telemedicine and eHealth Center (CTEC). Escalating healthcare costs, an aging population, rapid increases in chronic disease, and dwindling access to healthcare in underserved urban and rural areas have necessitated a speedier adoption of telehealth.

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