With the advent of technological advancements, the world of healthcare is not immune to the use of electronic communication to render services to patients. This articles shares similarity and the difference to the terms “Telemedicine vs Telehealth”
The terms telemedicine and telehealth have been used interchangeably. And although both use telecommunications technology, there are many differences between the two.
Let’s take a look at what both terms mean, and how they are both similar and different from one another. Let’s being with the basic definitions.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth refers to the broad range of services that provide patient care and improve the healthcare system as a whole. Telehealth can consist of electronic communication between a patient and a medical doctor; a nurse to a doctor; or a healthcare administrator to medical practitioners.
Telehealth includes both clinical and non-clinic services, from patient care to provider training, to administrative meetings, and continuing medical education. According to the World Health Organization, telehealth is the use of health promotion, surveillance, and public health functions.
According to The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), there are four different telehealth modalities, which are:
1.Live Video Conferencing
2.Mobile Health Services
3.Remote Patient Monitoring
The Center for Connected Health Policy also outlines Medicare recipients and telehealth delivered services.
ELIGIBLE TELEHEALTH PROVIDERS
There are limitations to health care providers who can participate in providing telehealth delivered service. CCHP provides a list of eligible health professionals. Here are some examples:
- · Physicians
- · Nurse practitioners
- · Physician assistants
- · Registered dietitians
- · Nutrition professionals
- · Certified registered nurse anesthetists
- · Clinical nurse specialists
- · Nurse-midwives
- · Clinical social workers
- · Clinical psychologists
ELIGIBLE TELEHEALTH FACILITIES
CCHP provides detailed State Laws and Reimbursement Policies by state. Medicare limitations may differ by the state for telehealth services eligibility. These are the following facilities:
- · Provider offices
- · Hospitals
- · Critical access hospitals
- · Rural health clinics
- · Federally qualified health centers
- · Skilled nursing facilities
- · Community mental health centers
- · Hospital-based or critical access hospital-based renal dialysis centers
- · Rural Emergency Hospitals
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, on the other hand, exclusively consists of clinical services provided remotely through patients with the use of telecommunication technologies, such as over the internet, phone, or radio.
While telehealth is the broader term, telemedicine is more specific. It’s also easier to understand because it involves communication solely regarding the patient. The telemedicine service may be provided directly to a requesting physician, but the service is directed towards a patient.
In a sense, telemedicine is involved with everything a patient might accomplish should he or she have an in-person visit at a clinic or hospital. Among the services rendered in telemedicine include diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up patient monitoring.
The Similarities Between Telehealth and Telemedicine
These two terms come from the prefix of “tele,” which means “from a distance.” Both provide services from a distance, where two people communicating are not in the same room together.
Both services also make use of telecommunications technologies, such as video conferencing, email messaging, software, and other technologies. For telemedicine, however, can also include communication over the phone and radio. The World Health Organization also uses the term “telematics,” to refer to telehealth and telemedicine. Telematics for health involves any health-related activities that are carried out over distance through the means of information technologies.
Because telehealth includes both clinical and non-clinical services, it is safe to say that telemedicine is a subset of telehealth. All kinds of telemedicine are considered to be telehealth but not all kinds of telehealth are telemedicine.
Despite the differences between the two, both services are part of the bigger effort to extend access to healthcare. It helps both patient and physician gain better access to healthcare, education, and information, done in an immediate and cost-efficient manner.
There are similarities between the two, such as the use of electronic technologies to deliver messages. Their means of delivery are also defined by 3 methods, which are the following:
A patient may have just gone home after surgery. The doctor would need to monitor his vital signs in order to observe his progress at home. Since the patient is still in recovery, physically visiting the doctor’s clinic may be close to impossible. Remote monitoring allows a medical professional to help manage a patient’s disease. This method can be called telemedicine, while it can also be called telehealth.
A patient who is at home and a doctor who is at a clinic can engage in real-time interaction during a consultation process. Real-time video conferencing, an over-the-phone consultation, or instant messaging can be described as real-time interaction. This example is called telemedicine. For the case of telehealth, the scenario could be a real-time interaction between an asking physician with a radiologist or a medical director to one of his physicians. Both services are called real-time interaction for telehealth and telemedicine.
3.Store and Forward
The store and forward method involves the acquisition of medical data, such as medical images and information, transmitting the information to a doctor or medical specialist, who then analyzes the data. The analyzed data is then sent to the asking physician, who then makes the diagnosis for the patient, recommending treatment based on the information given. This scenario is called telemedicine, but also telehealth in its broad aspect.
According to the World Health Organization, both telehealth and telemedicine are under the umbrella of telematics. This term is used to define any health-related activities carried out over distance through the means of information communications technologies.
Let us continue our discussion of Telemedicine vs Telehealth with examples.
To have a better understanding of these terms, here are some examples of scenarios for each term:
- · Several patients were recorded having the same symptoms over a specific location. The medical administrator then discusses with the hospital staff the possibility of an epidemic, through video conferencing.
- · Educating a patient about self-care at home, through the use of video calls.
- · Tele pharmacy
- · Ongoing education for a hospital’s nurses and medical practitioners through video conferencing.
- · A nurse takes pictures of a patient’s skin problems and sends the images to a dermatologist who is in another clinic. The dermatologist then decides whether an in-person consultation is needed, or the doctor can present a diagnosis and treatment over the phone or video.
- · A CT scan is sent to a radiologist who reads the image, then sends the results to the requesting physician, who then provides recommendations for the patient.
- · The patient and doctor communicate via video conferencing for a follow-up post-op check-up.
From a patient’s perspective telemedicine allows for faster referrals and diagnosis, while from a doctor’s perspective, it allows for greater work flexibility and improves patient outcomes.
The Benefits of Telehealth and Telemedicine
Both telemedicine and telehealth can be beneficial for both the patient and the medical provider. Here is a rundown of the benefits of such services:
- · Potentially reduce the overall cost of medical care
- · Eliminate the possible transmission of infectious diseases between patients and medical staff
- · Better access to healthcare for patients in a rural community, as well as those who have challenges with mobility
- · Provides more immediate access to healthcare without having to miss out on work
- · Allows guardians to provide their children or elderly family members access to healthcare even when they’re not around
- · For providers, electronic technology allows more efficiency
- · Can potentially increase the revenue of practitioners without having to hire more staff or expand their clinic space
While telehealth and telemedicine provide a plethora of benefits to both the patient and the primary care provider, it doesn’t come without risks, some of these include:
- · Increased risk of error since the physician and patient are not physically present in the same room
- · Poor quality of images of data in the Store and Forward method
- · The potential for misdiagnosis is high
The Bottom Line
Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth. All kinds of telemedicine are a subset of telehealth but not all telehealth is considered telemedicine. Telehealth consists of both clinical and non-clinical services whereas telemedicine is exclusively clinical in nature. Both services use telecommunications technology, allowing for better access to healthcare, as well as improving the overall healthcare environment.
With the use of technologies, patients in rural areas or those who cannot physically go for an in-person consultation, follow-up or diagnosis are allowed better access, convenience, and faster healthcare. Improved education and information dissemination are also improved within the healthcare system. Telemedicine is a term defined as the delivery of clinical services to patients via electronic telecommunications technology. It includes consultations, disease, and medication management, remote monitoring, and other clinical services provided to a patient who is not physically in the same room as the physician. Telehealth, on the other hand, includes both clinical and non-clinical services. The service can involve patients or other practitioners in the medical field.
Both terms offer enhanced access to healthcare, faster services, and improvements in the overall healthcare system.
- Title: Preventive Care