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Technology and Telehealth

Telehealth (telemedicine) is a service delivery model defined by the Health Resources and Services Administration as:

“…the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”

Using telehealth services to address the healthcare needs of rural residents with disabilities can overcome a number of barriers, such as travel distance and time, transportation, and limited access to specialists throughout the medical workforce. Because of the complex health needs of people with disabilities, telehealth allows patients and providers to check in more regularly. It also increases the ability of care coordinators to help with care plans and medication-management without traveling.

Telehealth in a home setting is an ideal way for people with disabilities to access service providers. In order to be implemented, telehealth requires a significant amount of technology infrastructure. In communities or households that have a limited ability to create individual telehealth sites, common, community locations for telehealth services can be effective way to make telehealth services available without the cost of individual technology equipment.

Telehealth is also beneficial for providers. Health educators, community health workers, and nurses can assist patients through long-distance coaching and provider training, which helps to increase knowledge and broaden the provider network.

Program Clearinghouse Examples

Resources to Learn More

Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers
Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) provide assistance, education, and resources to those providing or seeking to provide healthcare services to underserved populations at a distance.
Organization(s): Consortium of Telehealth Resource Center

Indiana Veterans Behavioral Health Network (IVBHN)
To address the lack of mental healthcare options for rural veterans, a tele-behavioral health hub network was created to connect Community Mental Health Centers to the VA Medical Center.
Organization(s): Indiana Veterans Affairs

Tele-Health Promotion for Rural People with Disabilities: Toward a Technology Assisted Peer Support Model
Documents the process of studying a well-known program for people with disabilities that was turned into an internet-based program and the resulting outcomes.
Organization(s): University of Montana Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities
Date: 9/2007