The language used to describe telecare, telemedicine, telehealth and other areas of digital health can be confusing at times. This is also due to the fact that the field is changing so quickly that we are still deciding on stand nomenclature.
The notion of telemedicine and related services is now well-established and shown to be beneficial to society. All three terms are briefly discussed in the following sections of this article.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth refers to the use of telecommunication technology to deliver healthcare over long distances. Computers, cameras, videoconferencing, the Internet, and satellite and wireless communications are examples of these technologies. Telehealth is a broad phrase that encompasses health information services, healthcare education, and health care services in general.
In fact, telecare and telemedicine are sometimes lumped together under the umbrella phrase telehealth. Health education services, remote monitoring of vital signs, ECG or blood pressure, and remote doctor-patient consultations are all examples of telehealth. Telehealth technology allows for remote diagnosis and evaluation of patients, as well as remote detection of changes in the patient's medical state at home, allowing drugs or specific therapies to be adjusted as needed.
It also allows for e-prescriptions and treatments to be administered remotely. Patients who have had operations or been hospitalized in the past can receive ongoing counseling or training, such as instructions on how to do physiotherapy after surgery. It ensures that chronic health concerns, medication management, weight control, nutrition counseling, and other issues are addressed by primary care professionals and specialists.
Telehealth includes four key components:
1. Video Conferencing
Remote real-time, two-way contact in the form of live videos between healthcare practitioners in training sessions or consultancy for viewers in different locations can be understood as a part of telehealth.
2. Mobile Health
A component of telehealth in which smartphones and tablets are used for sharing and transferring medical data.
3. Remote Patient Monitoring
It provides remote monitoring of a patient's health using technology gadgets to collect data such as blood pressure, glucose levels, or oxygen saturation. Digital stethoscopes, connected wearables like smartwatches and wristbands, and a variety of other gadgets are used to measure vital medical signs.
4. Store And Forward
This component covers the primary exchange of medical data, such as texts, pre-recorded videos, and X-rays, between patients and medical professionals or physicians.
What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine has a more limited scope than telehealth. It more precisely relates to distance education and the delivery of healthcare services using telecommunications technology. Telemedicine is the use of information technology and electronic communications to provide therapeutic services to patients over long distances.
Telemedicine includes the digital transmission of medical imaging, remote medical diagnosis, evaluations, and video consultations with professionals. Online patient consultations, remote control, telehealth nursing, and remote physical and psychiatry rehabilitation are just a few of the applications.
It improves healthcare options, improves emergency-service quality and performance, decreases diagnosis time, and saves money for both doctors and patients by streamlining clinical procedures and lowering hospital travel costs. The current pandemic outbreak has resulted in a significant increase in the use of Telemedicine technology and services. Follow-up visits, chronic condition management, medication management, and specialist consultation can all be done remotely via telemedicine.
Telemedicine is frequently utilized for two-way real-time communication between a healthcare professional and another provider or patient.
Telemedicine between providers:
Electronic communications are used by a variety of healthcare practitioners, including physicians and licensed clinical social workers, to obtain guidance and support, as well as to synchronize with other healthcare providers on case management.
Telemedicine from the patient to the doctor:
The provision of virtual health services to clients/patients is part of this agreement. Specialist consultations, follow-up visits, prescription administration, medical data transfer, and other care services can all be provided remotely via video and audio connections.
The terms telemedicine and telehealth are sometimes used interchangeably. Telemedicine is synonymous with telehealth, however not all telehealth is synonymous with telemedicine. Both are part of a bigger effort to increase access to care, make patient health management easier, and improve the healthcare delivery network's efficiency.
Telehealth is a word that encompasses a wide range of services. Telemedicine is a part of it. However, it also covers things like healthcare provider training, healthcare administration meetings, and pharmacist and social-worker services.
What Is Telecare?
As new technology has molded the face of modern telemedicine, the definition of telecare has evolved. Telecare is defined as "care provided to patients remotely via telecommunications technology."
Telecare is frequently used to improve patient access to care, assist patients in managing their recovery and well-being at home, and remotely monitor health concerns or early warning indications. The care might be provided via a variety of technologies, including telephones, virtual visits, and remote patient monitoring centers.
Telecare also encompasses social and lifestyle monitoring. One such example is the use of remote monitoring centers to provide support to the elderly, with the goal of detecting any warning signals of falls or aberrant behavior patterns that could indicate the need for intervention.
Some telecare systems will also take into account the environment and whether the client is awake or asleep before triggering the appropriate response. In many circumstances, telecare systems can assist in getting the person the support they need from a neighbor, an ambulance, or even the police department.
This is an important component of any telecare system, and it can be facilitated by routing calls through dedicated call centers, making it simple to connect with the necessary telecare services.
Difference Between Telehealth And Telemedicine
Two distinct situations, one where you are on a vacation and you connect with a physician with a terrible allergy over video conferencing. And two, when you are in a remote hospital being diagnosed by a doctor through a web connection.
Fundamentally, the first situation is telehealth, which is a broad phrase that refers to any health services delivered by telecommunications technology, usually to clients in their homes.
The second situation is telemedicine, which is a more specific word for the clinical use of remote technology. That is, it takes place in a clinical setting, most likely a hospital, with the assistance of other clinical personnel, diagnostic equipment, and patient health data.
The above situations make the two much more understandable but due to their wide usage, the distinction between the two has blurred increasingly. Traditional clinical diagnosis and monitoring that is delivered using technology are still referred to as telemedicine.
The term telehealth can be better understood to bag the various methods of management, education, diagnosis, and other related disciplines of health care.
Examples Of Telehealth And Telemedicine
To make the line of distinction further bright, let us consider some more examples.
For instance, speaking of video conferencing, a video chat between a health specialist and his medical students is telehealth. A video consultation between a patient and a doctor, on the other hand, would be classified as telemedicine because it involves a clinical interaction that aids in the provision of care.
Telemedicine does not encompass all asynchronous medical treatments. Telehealth, for example, includes academic publications meant for educational reasons, whereas telemedicine includes the sharing and understanding of the various digital scans of a patient.
Telemedicine does not apply to all mobile health services. As an example. telehealth would be used to provide a community health update or warning, whereas telemedicine would be used to provide post-operative follow-up instructions to patients.
Costs Of Telehealth And Telemedicine
Many persons seeking treatment and condition management can save money by using telehealth and telemedicine instead of going to a clinic in person. Telehealth and telemedicine cut down on travel expenses, time away from work, and the need for childcare. Patients seeking behavioral health treatment can participate in regular therapy sessions without incurring additional costs or rearranging their schedules.
The responses of 1,700 American individuals were studied in SingleCare's 2021 telehealth survey to better understand how they are reacting to the influx of telehealth services.
According to the poll, 60% of respondents had their telehealth services totally covered by their private insurance. Another 26% had their services reimbursed in part by their insurance plans. Only 8% of individuals polled had to pay for their virtual care entirely out of pocket.
Many private insurance companies charge the same rates for virtual and in-office visits, therefore 62% of those who paid out of pocket for telehealth reported an average cost of $0 to $30 per telehealth session. This research suggests that telehealth is getting more economical, allowing more people to access healthcare services.
As the concept of telemedicine and telehealth is gaining a lot of traction, many health insurance companies are beginning to provide coverage for telemedicine appointments. In some states, health insurance plans are required to reimburse telemedicine appointments at the same rate as in-person doctor visits.
Telemedicine services may be covered by insurance if they meet all federal regulations and eligibility criteria. To gain a better understanding of the financial responsibilities linked with health insurance and the covering of charges, it is important that you verify all the crucial details regarding the plan's benefits before using telemedicine.
The three very closely related and confusing terms catering to the medical world are discussed in detail to provide an elaborated idea about all of them. With ever-evolving and dynamic technology, the three concepts brought up by the amalgamation of technology and healthcare will be widely used and accepted in the time to come.
The use of technology and electronic communication tools to support clinical and non-clinical healthcare services is referred to as telehealth. It covers all areas of virtual health and has a greater scope.
While telemedicine is a concept that was born from telehealth. Telemedicine refers to the use of communication technologies to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases and injuries regardless of location. Telemedicine is connecting patients with their healthcare providers in real-time via live video conferencing and audio communication equipment rather than physically visiting an office.
Both these terms are individually discussed at large in the previous part of this article, jump right in to read it.
Telemedicine and telehealth are not new concepts. Many communities with limited access to medical care have benefited from them. Regardless of how you refer to it, telemedicine and telehealth have proven to significantly improve the quality, equity, and affordability of healthcare globally and will continue to do so