Are Telehealth vs Telemedicine the same? Not really. Telehealth and telemedicine are often used interchangeably, but they are very different when it comes to the services they provide and the healthcare providers they involve.

Telehealth refers broadly to the use of telecommunications technology to provide healthcare services remotely, including clinical services, education, and administrative functions. Telemedicine specifically focuses on clinical services delivered remotely through technology.

When your insurance company or care management team talks about virtual interaction with physicians, they are most probably talking about telemedicine. Telehealth, on the other hand, focuses on both disease and well-being, meaning even healthy individuals can benefit from the tools provided by these service providers!

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth vs Telemedicine: What's The Difference?
telehealth

Telehealth is defined as the delivery of healthcare and health-related services such as health education, remote monitoring of vital signs, health information services, self-care as well as non-medical services like medical training, health checkups, virtual clinical meetings via telecommunication and digital communication technologies, hence bridging the gap between the physical healthcare settings and making healthcare more accessible to people.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Telehealth Solutions

Pros 

  • Remote health monitoring: The impact of Telehealth solutions was felt significantly during the COVID-19 Pandemic for facilitating the possibility to interact with your doctor remotely while ensuring your safety as well. Therefore, now it has become a staple way of monitoring isolated and chronic care patients from a distance. Telehealth kits come with several devices like vital signs measurement, blood sugar level trackers, etc. 
  • Saves on time and energy: It is also very time-efficient and causes less strain on both the patient and medical infrastructure. Even for the smallest of difficulties, telehealth solutions are easy to obtain at the sanctuary of our own homes almost immediately. While patients need to wait for weeks to get an offline appointment, Telehealth offers valuable healthcare in a matter of seconds.
  • Cost-effective: Telehealth solutions are affordable when compared to traditional healthcare. With the advent of AI, provide the same preliminary result. This is helpful for everybody but a lifesaver for those who need medical support regularly.

Cons

  • Still a Developing Field: The major drawbacks arise from the lack of technical knowledge and awareness of these features, though accessibility and better digital education among the patients themselves, not to mention senior Health Care professionals who are new to the digital way of doing things.
  • Not well-distributed. While telecommunication technologies have improved drastically, a lot of areas do not have the provisions for their people to take advantage of these facilities properly. A lack of physical examination and limited scope of services also contribute to the hesitance shown by the patients. Many patients would love to use the services but do not have digital access or literacy to do so.

What is Telemedicine?

Telehealth vs Telemedicine: What's The Difference?
Telemedicine

Telemedicine can be considered a type of Telehealth and is often used interchangeably with Telehealth but Telemedicine refers to specific medical services provided by a healthcare provider remotely to a patient, with telemedicine, doctors and patients use communications tools for diagnosis, consultation, and treatments, as mentioned earlier the power and potential of Telemedicine was realized during the recent pandemic situation, the World Health Organization the leading medical body refers to it as “healing from a distance”

Advantages and Disadvantages of Modern Telemedicine 

Pros

  • Middle-of-the-night-care: Telemedicine offers middle-of-the-night care and is a great help for people living in distant regions, healthcare and advice by the medical professional are provided almost instantly. These days, such help is available not only to patients suffering from physical diseases but also to those living with mental disorders – psychiatric support is just as necessary on odd hours, if not more!
  • Cost-effective: This whole process also reduces overall healthcare costs, it also improves patient engagement as patients can track their metrics and take care of their health better. 
  • Use Systematic Care Management Dashboards: The doctors themselves can monitor the patients in a much more efficient manner. Records of past medications and other therapy can be automatically maintained on comprehensive dashboards. Telemedicine has recently introduced many such systems that are sold separately, especially for virtual private practices involving children and adults.

Cons

  • Lack of evidence-based regulation: The Telemedicine industry currently suffers from a lack of regulation. This reflects in higher chances of patients getting scammed or mistreated with real medicines, something that can have quite intense negative side effects.
  • Narrow Scope: Telemedicine is usually not involved in health-related education, wrong turn monitoring of symptoms, and patient progress. It is a simple connection between the patient and the healthcare professional, with no space for healthcare workers, pharmacists, frontline workers, etc. 
  • Not Suited for Emergency Conditions: Telemedicine is not that suitable to treat emergencies. Patients prone to high-intensity, urgent care episodes must continue to rely on offline help. 

Telehealth vs Telemedicine: Key Differences

Telehealth covers more activities than just physician-patient consultation while telemedicine consultation is limited to physician-patient dialogue, all pharmacotherapy interventions, only. Therefore, one can easily say that telemedicine is a part and parcel of the broader term ‘Telehealth’.

Telehealth can include non-medical activities like scheduling training programs for doctors while telemedicine services are restricted to medical services only. Therefore, Telehealth can push the boundaries of our traditional understanding of healthcare. 

Telehealth can help patients participate in discussions concerning chronic diseases through their tracking mechanism. Telemedicine consultation is a technology that is limited to communications to physicians only.

Another difference between telemedicine and Telehealth is that telehealth can be useful to a wide range of healthcare workers, pharmacists, and educators while in Telemedicine, only doctors can play a major role through virtual diagnosis and advice.

Some Examples of Telehealth and Telemedicine: How To Distinguish

Telehealth vs telemedicine examples are a great way to approach this distinction because they provide a clear understanding of whom to approach depending on your present requirement as a patient.

Examples of telehealth include:

  • Conducting psychotherapy and counseling sessions through an app
  • Using a mobile app to check body BP, and cholesterol levels, track calorie intake, manage allergies, etc.
  • Continued education for practicing healthcare providers in the form of workshops, seminars, study materials, etc
  • Long-term health monitoring systems including test results, medical history, and even social help in the form of alert systems for disease outbreaks

Examples of telemedicine are as follows: 

  • Booking online appointments with real-life physicians
  • Scheduling online reminders for medicine refills, checkups and vaccinations
  • Eye and ENT exams
  • Urgent care for dermatology, urine tract infections, back pain, etc.

Insurance Coverage for Telehealth and Telemedicine

A major issue that patients face regarding Telehealth and Telemedicine is that a lot of insurance schemes do not cover Telehealth and Telemedicine.

When they do cover some of the services, the amount reimbursed is significantly small, which leads to a significant population still opting for offline visits to the nearby medical facility.   

In the United States, Medicare covers some emergency-level needs that can easily be met through virtual telemedicine. Surprisingly the insurance has a better coverage of psychotherapy! However, expect your insurance to only cover about 20% of your net bills. Every brand has a different price point and is affiliated with different insurance companies. Make sure to check this out before you opt for an app that works for you.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we can see that telemedicine vs telehealth differences are indeed pronounced in some areas, especially those involving diffused, awareness-based healthcare interventions. Telemedicine involves specific services while Telehealth approaches patients with an integrated, well-rounded technological intervention. Further, both services also have many similarities such as being instantly available over the Internet 24 by 7, being quite financially affordable, and being flexible to the customized needs of each patient.