Telecommunication technology or telehealth has become one of the main tools for health plans and providers to improve care and outcomes. Video conferencing is being used by patients and doctors for real-time consultations and discussions. Electronic devices available for transmitting patient health information to doctors and other health care providers. Pre-recorded videos and digital images of x-rays can now be electronically transmitted between primary care providers and specialists.

Mobile applications are increasingly being used for health services, information and education. Underserved populations can be reached through targeted text messages to promote healthy practices, and through public alerts to inform them about disease outbreaks.

Telehealth is often used interchangeably with telemedicine but telehealth is broader in scope. Telemedicine specifically refers to remote clinical services, while telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services.

Interest in telehealth continues to rise in U.S. healthcare organizations. The global telemedicine market is poised to grow to $34B by 2020. Health systems are increasingly incorporating telehealth into their everyday practices. (Read more: Why ACOs are Hot for Telehealth)

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