The healthcare industry has changed a lot over the years as professionals and facilities are discovering new ways to improve their patient’s access to medical care while reducing the overall healthcare cost. Luckily, digital technology has simplified it. It has facilitated the professionals’ communication with their patients, blurring the barriers that can hinder a patient’s access to healthcare services.
With the help of audio, live video, and instant messaging, people can now interact with physicians from the comfort of their place. This is really useful for rural communities who generally lack ease of access to healthcare facilities. Remote healthcare saves time and ensures flexibility to the patients as it reduces travel time, waiting room time and the need to take off work and look for the healthcare facility.
With new terms like virtual care and telemedicine has quickly become popular, healthcare professionals have to make sure they are using the language while educating patients on the benefits of these new digital platforms to access healthcare.
However, most people often confuse virtual healthcare with telemedicine and vice versa. Both are different terms despite being associated with the same purpose that is to provide remote care.
So here we will define each term. Let’s get started.
What is Telemedicine?
In telemedicine, the treatment of various medical conditions is delivered without seeing the patient in person. Physicians might use telehealth platforms like audio, video and instant messaging to handle a patient’s concerns and check their condition remotely. This might involve providing medical advice, guiding them on specific workouts, or recommending them to a local provider or facility. Even more beneficial is the rise of telemedicine apps that give patients access to care right from their devices such as tablets and phones.
Of course, treating certain medical issues remotely can be difficult. Telemedicine is often used to treat common health conditions, manage chronic conditions and deliver specialist care. If a patient has an emergent or serious medical condition, the remote physician would recommend them in-person medical care.
What is Virtual Care?
Virtual care covers all the methods healthcare providers remotely interact with their patients. Besides treating the patients via telemedicine, the provider might use audio, video and instant messaging to communicate with the patient remotely.
This might involve checking in after an in-person visit, vitals after surgery, or responding to any questions about their condition, diagnosis and treatment plan.
In a nutshell, the term virtual care is a method of using all the tools and ways patients and doctors can interact in real-time.
Virtual care can offer non-clinical healthcare services while telemedicine might be only restricted to traditional healthcare services.
Choosing the Right Remote Care
As physicians and their patients try to make sense of and utilize these remote healthcare tools to their benefit, everyone should be familiar with the purpose of terms like virtual healthcare and telemedicine. Many people use these two terms interchangeably.
Healthcare professionals should help their patients distinguish between these terms to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of any remote health tools being utilized.
When explaining the digitization of healthcare, it is better to use the term virtual care instead of telemedicine. This is because virtual care covers a more picture of the remote healthcare landscape than telemedicine.
Ultimately, whether physicians deliver services that are covered by telemedicine or virtual care, there is a need to deliver the right service according to the concerns and information provided by the patients. It is not that much the definition but the quality of services that matters.
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