1. Live Video (synchronous) Sometimes referred to as “real time” or “videoconferencing,” synchronous interactions are useful when a real time conversation is needed between a health care provider and a patient, or between health care providers. In general, live video is used for synchronous interactions, but real time interactions can also take place using some of the other modalities described below.
2. Store-And-Forward (asynchronous) This category refers to interactions that do not take place in “real time.” A common use of asynchronous interactions is when a health care provider reviews health information or records that have previously been gathered by another professional or allied professional at an earlier time and at a different place than where the records are reviewed. The term “store-and-forward,” although commonly used today, is an older term that originated when records were captured in one location and then sent (forwarded) to another location. Now records can be captured directly to the cloud (internet-based servers) and accessed by individuals in multiple locations, eliminating the step of “forwarding” the records. Store-and-forward telehealth is in use in many aspects of health care such as teledermatology, teleopthamology, and teledentistry.
3. Remote Patient Monitoring Remote patient monitoring refers to using electronic means to gather information about a patient’s health, which is reviewed by a health care provider in a location separate from where the patient resides. This can be done synchronously or asynchronously. Examples include the Holter monitor, which measures EKG readings over a 24-hour period, and emerging systems to measure the pH of patient’s saliva over a period of time for review by the patient’s dentist.
4. Mobile Health (mHealth) Mobile health includes information sharing, education, and patient monitoring systems supported by mobile communication devices such as smart phones, tablets, smart voice assistants and computers. These mobile devices can support interactions that overlap with the categories described above.