Telehealth is a term referring to methods of distributing healthcare information and services through communication technologies, such as phones, tablets, and computers. Other technologies supporting telehealth include video conferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, terrestrial communication technology, and wireless communication technology. Telehealth services, such as long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration, focus on remote patient care through the use of telecommunication technologies, where the patient and healthcare provider are not in the same physical location.
The primary purpose of telehealth is to offer healthcare services to individuals unable gain access to face-to-face healthcare services due to financial or geographic reasons. Rural healthcare providers will often use telemedicine to help patients in their communities receive healthcare services at a reduced cost for both the patients and healthcare providers compared to face-to-face healthcare services. A study published in Health Economics titled 'Technology and managed care: patient benefits of telemedicine in a rural healthcare network' found that rural health care services in rural Alaska increased estimated patient benefits by $40 per visit, and reduced a patients' loss due to the rationing of physician access by ~20%.