Telehealth: Approaches, Ethics, Laws, Tools, and Examples

Subject: Public Health
Pages: 6
Words: 1628
Reading time:
6 min
Study level: College


Telehealth refers to remote medical interactions done virtually. The medical personnel connects with the patient online via internet access using computers or phones. This care delivery method is mostly initiated after an in-person visit where the doctor assesses the patient physically. However, in some cases, such as when the client is not suffering from a chronic disease, all checkups are done virtually. The options used in telehealth include phone calls, video calls, messages, or emails (Rhoads & Rakes, 2020). In some cases, the patient may do self-care with the help of the doctors. For instance, the patient will record his vital signs and send the findings to a doctor who will interpret them. Digital mobile apps have also been used in the promotion of healthcare. As such, they are used in developing diet and exercise plans.

Approaches of Telehealth

In the synchronous approach, the medical staff and the patient engage in real-time. It involves interactions facilitated by phone calls, messages, or video calls. The calls can be made from any location and at a convenient time. The asynchronous approaches refer to when medical information, data, and relevant detail such as images and messages are collected and sent to the medical personnel. In this form of telehealth, there are no active interactions or communication between the parties involved. Remote patient monitoring involves measuring vital signs and other parameters and sharing the readings with the doctor or nurse. RPM is the most common approach used. This is because it can be applied in managing both chronic and acute conditions. RPM allows the medical staff to check on their patients between scheduled visits and when personal contact is impossible.


Telehealth has played a significant role in promoting health status among the general population. Healthcare feasibility has been promoted through this program. Telehealth has also promoted the use of technology in healthcare, such as digitalizing patient records, which has aided in reducing paperwork in health facilities. Healthcare benefits associated with telehealth include limited physical contact, which plays a major role in managing the exposure to covid-19. The risk of developing nosocomial infections is eliminated. This is because the client does not spend time in a hospital setup. Telehealth has made healthcare more accessible as patients can consult from any location. Delays experienced in health facilities are also eliminated. The program is cost-efficient as the patient does not travel to health centres, and there are no delays in booking medical appointments with a doctor.

Ethical Considerations

Telehealth poses a major ethical challenge in the delivery of healthcare. In telehealth, the medical personnel may fail to respect the scope of practice. This is associated with the lack of a proper accreditation process. Unlike in health facilities, the patient cannot be assured if the doctor or nurse is certified to offer the services. Imposters can use such opportunities to fraud innocent clients. Privacy of the patients’ details cannot be assured. The patient’s images and messages can easily be leaked or accidentally shared with a third party. Telehealth is associated with technology security issues (Young et al., 2018). Through cyber-crimes, the information may be hacked and the details exposed. In telehealth, nurses and doctors are faced with challenges when offering palliative care. This is because of the complexities involved with the end of life.

The aspect of informed consent is also not guaranteed in telehealth. The code of ethics in healthcare stipulates that each patient should consent to all treatment offered to them. However, in telehealth information needed for the patient cannot be provided fully. The aspect of equality is compromised in telehealth because people living in remote areas cannot access stable internet (Young et al., 2018). People of low socioeconomic status cannot benefit fully from the program. Tools used in telehealth, such as carts and computers, are expensive. Therefore, People who cannot afford them cannot benefit from this program. Telehealth is an emerging program, and various healthcare systems, such as medical insurers, have not adopted it fully. The patient may face challenges such as not being compensated by insurers who do not approve telehealth.

Laws of Telehealth

Telehealth is managed and controlled by the laid laws and regulations passed by the state. These laws are outlined in each state’s constitution that has approved telehealth. However, the laws may vary depending on the state in which the client is located. These laws include licensing of medical officers, radiographers, therapists, nurses, and pharmacists. As per the regulation, telehealth can only be conducted by medical staff member who qualified from a recognized training institution and should be licensed and experienced. This is done to ensure only reasonable professionals offer the services. The laws also stipulate the clinician-patient relationship. In some cases, the laws direct that there should be an in-person visit before telehealth. Prescriptions are essential in healthcare, and the law indicates that some conditions require personal visits and tests before any drugs are given.

The law also stipulates that telehealth is just like any other medical service. Therefore, the patients must sign an informed consent before any medications or procedures are conducted. Therefore, the medical staff serving the patient should inform the client of the risks, benefits, and the alternative of the treatments option. After giving the patient such details, they should be allowed to make independent decisions on whether or not to proceed with the care plan. State policies control the reimbursement of telehealth services, and these include payments made through private payers or Medicaid. Health information technology laws regulate sharing of information, and the systems used should be secure enough to provide the safety of the data. The laws provide for patient confidentiality as professionals are strictly required to protect the information collected.

Impact of Telehealth on Healthcare Delivery

Telehealth has impacted healthcare delivery in various ways. The program has made healthcare more convenient for patients as they do not have to travel for appointments. Clients also have saved money that could otherwise be used for transport or meals while away from home. Unlike In-person visits, telehealth has promoted feasibility in healthcare delivery (Rhoads & Rakes, 2020). This has made the delivery of healthcare easy and efficient. Continuity of treatment and care provider has also been enhanced, and this is because it is easy for the medical personnel to make follow-ups. Congestions in the hospital ward that led to various issues such as medication errors have also been resolved. This generally has led to better healthcare outcomes and prognosis. Accessibility to health services has been enhanced as barriers such as transportation and mobility have been eliminated.

Impacts on Education

Telehealth has promoted the efficiency of clinical learning and training. Students can also access several medical learning resources online, promoting education. This is because of the introduction of online medical libraries that has several medical books, journals, articles, and case studies from which they can gain knowledge. It has aided students’ fast-tracking and learning as it has no geographical barriers. The program has also enabled students’ early graduation, therefore allowing them to participate in professional participation in clinical areas (Sanchez et al., 2019). Telehealth is termed a great teaching tool as it enhances critical thinking among students. The students are exposed to several critical conditions and learn how to resolve them efficiently. However, the system has reduced the efficiency of education as students’ exposure to an ideal clinical setup is limited.

Data Tools and Technologies

Clinical carts include a monitor, codec, keyboard, and camera. They enable care providers to view images, take pictures, and store them (Traube et al.,2020). These carts are developed and customized to serve specific specialties. Electronic medical records are customized software that provides a digital form of patient details. EMRs allow the medical personnel to access the patient’s details on various aspects such as the history, diagnosis and medications. The information shared is encrypted, making it secure and confidential. Mobile phones and computers collect auditory and typed data from the patient. They also facilitate communication between the clients and the medical personnel through messages, calls, and video chats. The patient computers have special features such as the decision-support systems. Such applications help the patient fully comply with the drug prescriptions and prevent allergic reactions.

Example of Telehealth

Telehealth has been in use in recent years following the COVID-19. Due to the high admission rates in the hospital, the healthcare system resolved to telehealth. Online questionnaires were used for assessing, triaging, and monitoring patients (Monaghesh & Hajizadeh, 2020). The patient history is also conducted virtually by use of phones calls or video chats. Telehealth was also used in the screening of patients during testing for infections. The doctors may as well guide their clients to perform a self-examination and later send them the findings for analysis. The COVID-19 was also used to offer lifestyle coaching for the patients. This generally reduced the spread of the virus as contact with infected persons was limited. The program has also aided in decongesting the medical facilities as patients can be managed from home.


In conclusion, telehealth is the remote connection between patients and medical staff via online platforms. This program plays a significant role in promoting quality and timely access to medical attention. The telehealth initiative has greatly impacted healthcare in various ways. It has made healthcare more feasible as the clients can access it easily. The program has also made healthcare relatively cheaper for the patients. This is because they do not spend money on travelling to health facilities. Telehealth is, however, faced with ethical challenges due to reasons such as lack of informed consent. However, the initiative has improved healthcare delivery and eliminated barriers to medical attention access. Various tools such as carts and phones are used to enhance its efficiency. Telehealth has played a significant role during the covid-19 pandemic.


Monaghesh, E., & Hajizadeh, A. (2020). The role of telehealth during COVID-19 outbreak: A systematic review based on current evidence. BMC public health, 20(1), 1-9. Web.

Rhoads, S., & Rakes, A. L. (2020). Telehealth technology: Reducing barriers for rural residents seeking genetic counseling. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, 32(3), 190-192. Web.

Sanchez, D., Reiner, J. F., Sadlon, R., Price, O. A., & Long, M. W. (2019). Systematic review of school telehealth evaluations. The Journal of School Nursing, 35(1), 61-76. Web.

Traube, D. E., Hsiao, H. Y., Rau, A., Hunt-O’Brien, D., Lu, L., & Islam, N. (2020). Advancing home-based parenting programs through the use of telehealth technology. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 29(1), 44-53. Web.

Young, J. D., Borgetti, S. A., & Clapham, P. J. (2018). Telehealth: Exploring the ethical issues. DePaul journal of health care law, 19(3), 2.