The terms telehealth and telemedicine are often used interchangeably. Or you can say that these terms are confused with each other. Popular to the contrary belief, telehealth and telemedicine are two separate entities despite having the same delivery model. Although both are delivered over the phone or the Internet, they share some stark differences between them.
What is the Difference between Telemedicine and Telehealth?
Telehealth is a wide field of medical services and education over electronic communication methods. Telemedicine, on the other hand, is a part of telehealth to deliver prescription and medical consultation over the phone or the Internet.
Telehealth is a tree while telemedicine is one of its branches.
Here is How Health Organizations Differentiate Telehealth and Telemedicine
According to HealthIT.gov, telehealth and telemedicine are two different things. It states—
“Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of remote health care services than telemedicine. While telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services.”
AAFP also opines the same—
“Telehealth is different from telemedicine in that it refers to a broader scope of remote health care services than telemedicine. Telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, while telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services.”
CCHP believes that telehealth is a commonly used term for various diagnosis and management—
“Telemedicine is often still used when referring to traditional clinical diagnosis and monitoring that is delivered by technology. However, the term telehealth is now more commonly used as it describes the wide range of diagnosis and management, education, and other related fields of health care.”
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth refers to a wide range of technologies and services to deliver patient care and enhance the healthcare delivery system. Telehealth is different from telemedicine as it includes a broad range of remote healthcare services than telemedicine. While the term telemedicine covers remote clinical services, telehealth is used for remote non-clinical services, including provider training administrative meetings, medical education, apart from giving medical services.
Telemedicine is said to be started in the 1950s when some hospital networks and universities looked for ways to share information and images via telephone.
Telehealth is a part of E-health, which covers the services of health information, for healthcare professionals and customers, education, and training of healthcare pros and health systems management through the internet and telecommunications.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a part of telehealth. The term telemedicine is used for the delivery of healthcare services over the phone or the internet. Simply put, it is the use of information technologies and electrical communication methods to deliver remote clinical services.
The remote medical diagnosis and evaluations, digital transmission of medical imaging, and consulting with remote physicians are part of telemedicine. It is a highly effective and practical alternative compared to sending patients or medical knowledge through air, sea, and rough land routes.
Read Also: Why Should You Consider Telemedicine for your Children
What are the Examples of Telemedicine Activities?
- One of the examples of telemedicine activities has been stated by a Health Progress article as… A physician is notified for a patient being in the queue. The patient information is then reviewed by the electronic medical database. Afterward, the patient is visited over phone or video to make the recommendations based on the findings.
- Primary care doctors, pediatricians, and emergency medicine doctors get involved with patients through video visits. Patients can use video calling for follow up care, medication queries as well as the treatment of non-emergency health problems.
- Sometimes, images are taken in a primary care office and uploaded into a database. Remote physicians to assess the images and share observations. Primary care physicians assess their reports and figure out if appointments are necessary.
- Under a program at Boston-based Partners Healthcare, over 3,000 heart patients used at-home monitoring devices to deliver blood pressure, weight, and other metrics to the program operators. Clinical decision support software then sorted the patients requiring interventions. The program let a panel of three or four nurses to handle over 200 patients. It eventually minimized reduced readmissions among the participating patient by 40% as well saved cost of over $10 million.
- The Veterans Health Administrations combined remote patient monitoring, health informatics, and disease management technology to enhance care for patients suffering from depression and diabetes. Apart from delivering high patient satisfaction, the program dropped bed days care requirements by 25% as well as a 19 percent reduction in hospital admissions.
Read Also: How Telemedicine Helps Your Kids with Cold and Flu
What are the Examples of Telehealth Activities?
- Here is an example sourced from a U.S. Pharmacist report: A pharmacist provides supervision and reviews prescriptions at different locations. Patients can pick up medications “from a nearby location and have access to the same counseling with a pharmacist at the remote location as they would at the home pharmacy, only it is done via a screen rather than in person.”
- Telehealth nursing is another part of telehealth as stated by a Nursing2019 article. The article finds that remote nursing in telehealth is a method “for delivering nursing care remotely to improve efficiency and patient access to health care.” Telehealth nursing services help patients in “emergency department visits, clarify appropriate treatment options, educate about self-care at home, and assist with appointment scheduling.”
- Communities without a stroke team might not know how to help someone amid a stroke. Telehealth can help them virtually consult with the physician who can assess the patient to suggest the right course of treatment. Although this won’t eliminate visits to the physician, it can be a great help in emergencies.
- The key benefit of telehealth is the ability to provide quick access to care that otherwise wouldn’t be easy to get. Rural communities, for instance, lack the healthcare infrastructure of populated areas. Often, patients living in such areas have to travel miles to see a physician, which is not always feasible. Telehealth lets them connect to the physician in the comfort of their place. Besides, the contact with the physicians is often disturbed by natural disasters. In such scenarios, telehealth can be useful as providers can consult with people living in the disaster-hit area.
An Interesting History of Telemedicine and Telehealth
Delivering health services is not a new practice. According to some sources and experts, remote medical services might date back to the 18th century. Telemedicine is considered much older than telehealth.
One of the first instances of telemedicine was found in an 1879 article mentioning the use of the telephone for medical services. In 1925, a cover of Science of Invention magazine depicts a doctor diagnosing a patient by the radio. The first reference to telemedicine was found in medical literature in 1950.
Although telehealth and telemedicine are generally two separate identities, some recommend merging them both due to the similar nature.
So you must have understood the differences between telehealth and telemedicine. Despite having the same delivery model and related to the same genre, they are not the same. Telehealth is a wide field of medical services and education being delivered over the phone or the internet. Telemedicine is the part of telehealth to provide prescription and medical consultation over the phone or the Internet.