What Is the Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine?

March 18, 2020 by James McHugh, Jr.

Technology has played a hand in changing nearly every aspect of our daily lives, including healthcare and the physician-patient relationship. Healthcare systems have utilized telehealth and telemedicine since the 1950s; but the use of these services has grown exponentially in recent years due to advancements in technology. The two remote systems can directly aid in addressing the lack of healthcare access for rural communities as well as underprivileged communities that have lost access to hospitals and healthcare providers due to hospital mergers and shutdowns.

What is Telemedicine?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines telemedicine as “healing from a distance.” The need for telemedicine originally stemmed from patients without access to nearby healthcare providers – such as those in rural communities – to have accelerated access to a healthcare professional. Today, telemedicine is utilized for patients without a primary care doctor or insurance, who are experiencing symptoms but cannot physically see a doctor, or as a convenience for patients feeling ill or with questions regarding their health. Telemedicine appointments can be personal, with face-to-face interaction via channels like FaceTime and Skype.

Because many Americans have the technology required to operate these services on smartphones or other mobile devices, telemedicine has brought medical care closer to the masses than ever before. A patient experiencing symptoms can now reach into their pocket for answers instead of risking the health of others by avoiding medical care completely or by going into a doctor’s office or hospital and infecting others.

Patients can seek the following with telemedicine services:

  • Diagnosis of symptoms
  • Prescribing medications
  • Address concerns and needs with physician
  • Schedule further consultations and testing

In addition to addressing patient concerns, telemedicine can easily assist in the diagnosis and treatment of the following common illnesses and ailments:

  • Common cold
  • Flu
  • Pink eye
  • Diarrhea
  • Insect bites
  • Sore throats

While similar to telemedicine, telehealth is broad and encompasses services, care, and telecommunication options for patients.

What is Telehealth?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines telehealth as the use of telecommunications and virtual technology to deliver healthcare outside of traditional facilities. Patients living with chronic illnesses can utilize Telehealth, as well as those who require in-home care such as guided assistance to complete tasks, which can be administered through Skype or FaceTime. While telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, telehealth can encompass remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services.

Advancing Health Care

Through telehealth services, outlying health care systems are better able to provide for their rural and/or under-served communities. These health care systems are now able to keep up with the ever-changing field of medicine through training services as well as providing programs to outlying medical providers through major health care providers’ network systems. Through these efforts, a variety of communications can be shared regarding current epidemics, updated treatments, and practices, as well as routine administrative training and duties that may not be present or readily available to some health care systems.

Providing of Independence

Telehealth services can greatly impact a person’s quality of life by providing them with a sense of independence through guided telehealth sessions. Telehealth is able to check in on patients and monitor daily tasks and activities without the need for in-home care. By providing individuals who may be physically disabled or elderly the option to address their medical needs without leaving their home is an efficient and convenient way to provide quality care.

Benefits of Telehealth and Telemedicine

Whether a patient chooses to utilize telehealth or telemedicine services, each has benefits for the patient. As mentioned earlier, telehealth and telemedicine options grew from the need to provide medical services and care to those most vulnerable and out of reach of medical care. As the services have grown and becomes more widely adopted, the demographic utilizing telehealth and telemedicine services has evolved.

Now more than ever, we live in an instant-gratification based society. For goods and services to be successful, they must be convenient, require minimal commitment, and be relatively easily accessible. Telehealth and telemedicine options address the current needs of society.

Patients using remote health services may experience the following benefits:

  • Expedited appointments with healthcare staff
  • Expedited diagnosis
  • Expedited prescriptions
  • Face-to-face discussion with healthcare staff on symptoms and concerns

Philadelphia Malpractice Attorneys

All people deserve access to quality healthcare. With advancements in technology contributing to expanding remote services like telehealth and telemedicine, it’s now possible for rural communities and the vulnerable unable to travel to receive diagnoses, prescriptions, and medical services. If you or someone you know received inadequate healthcare that led to further illness, injury, or death, you may be entitled to compensation. Time limitations apply to your potential malpractice claim so do not delay in contact our hospital negligence attorneys immediately to discuss your options at no charge.

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