Telehealth vs Telemedicine – Overview
Telehealth and telemedicine are often confusing for people. Though they are both similar and often used in place of the other, they are two very different things.
On the one hand, Telehealth is an umbrella term that includes numerous types of clinical and non-clinical healthcare services provided to patients through digital audio and video communication technology.
On the other hand, telemedicine is more specific and is part of telehealth. Telemedicine refers to providing remote clinical healthcare services using telecommunication technology.
In this article, we will take a deeper look at the difference between telehealth and telemedicine, along with their benefits and advantages.
What is Telehealth
Telehealth is a broad term and includes various types of healthcare services provided to patients using digital technology. This also includes telemedicine.
Telehealth provides clinical and non-clinical healthcare services online, which may include a virtual visit from a certified healthcare provider, patient education, training for healthcare professionals, and other healthcare-centered communication done using the internet. Commonly, telehealth utilizes email, text, streaming media and video-conferencing technology to provide telehealth services.
Telehealth also includes mobile health (mHealth). This refers to using healthcare apps or other digital programs designed for a mobile phone. For instance, there are numerous apps that allow your smartphone or tablet to manage your health condition, set reminders for appointments, create medication schedules, monitor blood pressure and even use wearable devices.
What is Telemedicine
Telemedicine is a specific term and falls under Telehealth. It defines services that healthcare professionals provide online to patients who are at different locations. These services also include a virtual visit from certified healthcare professionals but do not include any non-clinical services.
Healthcare professionals usually use email, text, video-conferencing, and online patient portals to communicate with patients while providing telemedicine services.
What is the difference between Telehealth vs Telemedicine
The main difference between the two is that Telehealth actually encompasses Telemedicine. Telehealth refers to services beyond a virtual doctor’s visit. It includes administrative processes and medical consultations in healthcare facilities and basically covers every healthcare activity performed using digital technology.
Telemedicine is a sub-type of telehealth. It includes medical services that are delivered by a healthcare provider to patients using the internet. Think of telemedicine as a virtual visit from your healthcare provider with real-time interaction in the comfort of your home while your doctor diagnoses and treats you from their clinic.
To put it in plain words, telemedicine refers to virtual appointments with the doctor when they are not personally present with the patient.
Telehealth, in turn, also includes:
- Training healthcare providers
- Conducting administrative meetings for healthcare facilities (hospitals, healthcare systems)
- Continuing education for healthcare professionals
- Managing health-tracking devices
What are Examples of Telehealth and Telemedicine
Here are some examples of Telehealth vs. Telemedicine to help you understand better.
Examples of Telemedicine
Telemedicine usually includes the following healthcare services that are provided over the Internet:
- Regular physicals and annual wellness check-ups
- Eye exams
- Medication prescriptions and prescription refills
- Nutrition counseling
- Urgent care (for certain conditions, like rashes, back pain, UTI, etc.)
- Mental health counseling
- Remote health monitoring (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.)
Examples of Telehealth
Telehealth services include everything under telemedicine, along with the following:
- Healthcare providers use secure e-mail to send patient exam notes, x-rays, and medical history to a specialist for consulting purposes
- Conducting medical education lectures online for healthcare providers
- Online meetings between healthcare professionals to coordinate patient care using video-conferencing technology
- Using health tracking apps on smart devices
- Using apps on mobile or tablet that alert or notify of a disease outbreak
What are the Benefits and Advantages of Telehealth and Telemedicine
Telehealth and telemedicine have made it extremely convenient for healthcare providers and patients to provide and receive care.
Telehealth/Telemedicine Benefits for Patients
Virtual visits through telehealth are incredibly convenient and noticeably less expensive. For patients, this means receiving care without traveling to the doctor’s office and even having access to healthcare when the provider is away. This results in several advantages for the patient, such as:
- Avoiding driving time and sitting in waiting rooms
- Booking appointments and seeing the healthcare provider promptly
- Receiving healthcare services without having to take off time from work
- Avoiding exposure to infectious diseases from other patients in the doctor’s waiting room
- Being more involved in their healthcare process as reaching a healthcare provider is easier
- Saving money by avoiding traveling costs for an in-person appointment at the clinic
Telehealth/Telemedicine Benefits for Healthcare Providers
Telehealth is also immensely useful for healthcare providers to offer more accessible, affordable, and convenient care. By using telehealth and telemedicine technology, healthcare providers can:
- Treat more patients over a wider geographic area
- Use remote monitoring devices to help patients manage their health conditions
- Get patient data quicker and more efficiently from other healthcare professionals
- Communicate more effectively and work in better coordination with other professionals
- Help patients avoid unnecessary emergency room or clinic visits
Telehealth and telemedicine are intertwined. Telehealth includes a wide variety of clinical and non-clinical activities that are conducted by healthcare professionals using digital technology, of which telemedicine is a small but significant part. You can simply ask your regular doctor if they provide telehealth or telemedicine services and receive efficient, affordable, and convenient healthcare at home.