Health Management

By GeeVida team  Apr 12, 2021

What is the Difference between Telehealth and Telemedicine?

During this pandemic, thousands of people are wondering how they can seek medical help from healthcare professionals. Fortunately, with the use of technology, you can now connect with care providers in the comfort of your home. It lessens the risk of contracting hospital-acquired illnesses and promotes better access to health services.

But, there are various terms related to this technology, which makes people confused. The most common ones are telehealth, telemedicine, and telecare. Read on to know the difference between telehealth and telemedicine, as well as telecare.

Telehealth vs Telemedicine vs Telecare

There are various misconceptions about these three terms, and below are the differences when it comes to definitions provided by scientific organizations.

  • Telehealth

The WHO defines telehealth as “[the] delivery of health care services, where patients and providers are separated by distance. [It] uses ICT for the exchange of information for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health professionals.”

First, patients and medical professionals should be away from each other for the procedure to be categorized as telehealth. Besides patients, researchers and scientists can also use telehealth to gather information, allowing them to complete their works. Moreover, when hospital board members and employees conduct meetings virtually, it may also be considered telehealth. 

  • Telemedicine

Alternatively, telemedicine’s definition is more restrictive than telehealth. The WHO defines it as the “use of electronic communications and information technologies to provide clinical services when participants are at different locations.”

Hence, it focuses on clinical services, such as giving diagnoses and providing treatments. For example, video consultations with physicians and doctors fall under this category. It also refers to the exchange of scans, test results, and other essential records. Unlike telehealth, telemedicine doesn’t involve meetings related to health, sciences, and related fields. 

  • Telecare

In terms of definition, telecare is still an evolving concept for health organizations. The FCC or the Federal Communications Commission defines telecare as the “technology that allows consumers to stay safe and independent in their own homes.” It might seem too broad, but current applications include monitoring devices that send alerts to caregivers to prevent the worsening of diseases.

This technology is mostly used by people with chronic illnesses and the elderly. It’s challenging for these individuals to visit hospitals often, so remote monitoring devices offer exceptional convenience. Since it’s usual for them to have a compromised immune system, this method also lessens their exposure to disease-causing organisms.

Based on the definitions above, telehealth is a broad term that encompasses telemedicine and telecare. 

Modes of Delivery

It’s now time to discuss how medical professionals provide and use these services.

  • Synchronous

This refers to real-time communication between patients and doctors when it comes to telemedicine, or among healthcare providers during meetings and evaluations. For a consultation or conference to be considered synchronous, individuals involved should use video conferencing apps or telephones. This way, the session can function like a face-to-face meeting.

This allows doctors and physicians to address patients’ concerns directly. Live interactions are then helpful in psychiatric consultations where body language is a crucial part of a diagnosis. Besides, medical students and professionals can join synchronous meetings to deepen their knowledge, so they can offer better and advanced services.

  • Asynchronous

Unlike the first method, asynchronous refers to the exchange of health records, such as scans, photos, and pre-recorded videos, through secure emails and other platforms. In this kind of consultation, physicians evaluate the information an individual sent, thereby examining a patient’s condition outside of the consultation hours. Hence, patients need to prepare various documents for asynchronous visits.

This mode of consultation is mostly used for telemedicine since it’s beneficial for individuals with a hectic schedule. As a result, they can avoid long waiting times. Most patients might raise issues about security and privacy. Fortunately, all telehealth, telemedicine, and telecare providers must adhere to the standards set by HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

  • Remote monitoring

Remote monitoring is mainly used in telecare to offer services to senior care facilities and nursing homes. It uses various devices, such as bed alarms, blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors, and other equipment. These records are sent to caregivers and physicians, allowing them to keep track of the patient’s condition and provide the necessary treatment plans.

Uses of Telehealth, Telemedicine, and Telecare

Different types of people benefit from telehealth and its subsets.

  • Telehealth and researchers

Since telehealth is the most comprehensive among the three, it is used not only by patients and doctors; but also by researchers, hospital employees, and medical students. Researchers can reach more respondents in a short amount of time and with little resources using ICT or Information Communication Technology.

During this pandemic, telehealth enabled scientists and experts to discuss plans regarding this health crisis. Technology allowed them to share findings from different parts of the world. As a result, people have a better understanding of how to prevent Covid-19.

  • Telemedicine, patients, and doctors

Since telemedicine is more focused on clinical services, patients, doctors, physicians, and specialists are the ones who benefit from this approach. For instance, people who have minor injuries can turn to online consultations so that doctors can give instructions on how to care for bruises, cuts, strains, and sprains.

Virtual appointments also play a significant role in post-operative care, especially in general surgery and plastic surgery. Through the use of the internet, gadgets, and secure platforms, patients can send pictures throughout recovery and communicate with their surgeons in real-time, without having to leave their homes.

  • Telecare and the elderly

Telecare serves the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and caregivers. Aside from monitoring devices for heart rate and blood pressure, care providers also take advantage of medication reminder systems to effectively take care of their patients. Fitness apps also count as part of telecare since they allow individuals to manage their overall well-being.

It’s undeniable that telehealth, telemedicine, and telecare provide invaluable benefits to millions of individuals. They might have some differences, but each approach contributes to healthcare accessibility. Explore our website to learn what telehealth can do for you.

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