With the latest advancements in medical technology, there are many terms being used in the industry these days that the average patient may not quite understand. For instance, many people believe the terms “telehealth,” “telecare” and “telemedicine” are interchangeable, when in fact they are not. Each refers to a different area of medical technology or a different way of administering health care via existing technologies. To clear up the confusion and highlight the subtle differences among these three terms, we’ve provided a definition of each below.
Telehealth: Telehealth is a broad term used to refer to the provision of health care services, health care education and health information services at a distance. Telemedicine and telecare are generally encompassed within the broader scope of telehealth. Telehealth allows for such things as remote doctor-patient consultations (telemedicine), remote monitoring of blood pressure, ECG or other vital signs, and health education services. Through telehealth technology, medical practitioners are able to evaluate and diagnose patients remotely, prescribe treatment, e-prescribe medications, and quickly detect fluctuations in the patient’s medical condition at home, to be able to alter therapy or medications accordingly.
Telecare: Telecare refers to technology that allows patients to stay safe and independent in their own homes, through the use of telecommunications technology including telephones, computers and mobile monitoring devices such as warden alarms, automatic gas shut-off devices and home entry videophones. Telecare involves continuous remote monitoring of patients in order to receive alerts about real-time emergencies and to track lifestyle changes over time. In this way, telecare helps manage a wide range of risks associated with a patient’s independent living.
Telemedicine: The scope of telemedicine is narrower than that of telehealth, and refers specifically to the provision of health care services and education over a distance, through the use of telecommunications technology. Telemedicine is defined as the use of electronic communications and information technologies to provide clinical services to patients in other locations. Examples of telemedicine include video consultations with specialists, remote medical evaluations and diagnoses and the digital transmission of medical imaging.