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Telemedicine vs. Telehealth: What’s the Difference?

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There has been a lot of talk about telehealth and telemedicine lately. The popularity of the two surged during the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (78 times more prevalent in April 2020 than in February that year) and, although usage has tapered off slightly, patients are choosing remote healthcare services 38 times more often than before the pandemic.  

What Is Telemedicine? 

Telemedicine refers to the broader scope of remote healthcare services through the integration of electronic communications, telecommunications technology, and healthcare. By integrating the three, patients can receive care, often with no need for an in-office visit.  

Telemedicine

The types of services available through telemedicine include: 

  • Follow-up visits
  • Medication management
  • Chronic condition management
  • Specialist consultation
  • Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

Telemedicine Applications and Benefits: 

  • Reduced costs
  • Centralizing specialists
  • Support for primary care clinicians
  • High-quality remote healthcare service availability for rural and remote areas
  • Since many medical practitioners can provide remote healthcare services when it is impossible for local clinics and hospitals to do so in person, telemedicine sparks better adaptation to healthcare crises. Infected people and those who are not infected but need chronic condition management for ailments like heart conditions and diabetes benefit from remote healthcare services in times of medical crises.

What Is Telehealth? 

Telehealth encompasses a broader range of activities than telemedicine. Not only does telehealth include telemedicine, but it also includes:  

Telehealth-CaretimeMD
  • Administrative meetings
  • Remote non-clinical services (like health professional training)
  • Patient education
  • Nursing services
  • Pharmacy services

Telehealth Applications: 

Telehealth provides a solution to the lack of physicians available to provide in-person services.  

Additionally, telehealth is an excellent way to counsel patients who have recently had surgery. Physiotherapy for post-operation patients is an amazing application of telecommunications technology. Another way to utilize telehealth is to manage weight, medication, chronic conditions, and nutrition counseling.  

What is the difference between Telehealth and Telemedicine? 

The primary difference between telemedicine and telehealth is that healthcare organizations use telehealth for a broader set of health care services than telemedicine. Additionally, telehealth includes remote non-clinical services like training for healthcare professionals and their patients.

Remote Clinical Services 

A remote clinical service occurs in telemedicine when a patient is either diagnosed or treated by a licensed or certified staff member or one who has an advanced degree. A staff member in the lab diagnosing patients is offering clinical services to a patient.  

Remote Non-Clinical Services 

A remote non-clinical service occurs in telemedicine when a meeting or continuing medical education session occurs. The non-clinical staff in a practice usually includes those who perform administrative and business tasks. In opposition to clinical visits, non-clinical telemedicine visits do not entail a diagnosis or medical treatment.  

The key takeaway is that telemedicine is an aspect of telehealth, while telehealth includes additional healthcare functions. Telehealth can also refer to patient education regarding chronic conditions or administrative meetings among clinic staff. Additionally, clinical and non-clinical telemedicine visits occur, with the difference between the two being diagnosis or treatment for the patient.