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Dan Murdoch

October 20, 2023
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Telehealth vs. Telemedicine: All Important Differences Explained

Telehealth vs. Telemedicine: All Important Differences Explained

Aren’t t and telemedicine the same? Not quite. The terms are related, but they’re not synonymous. We cover all the important differences you need to know. 

Many people use the terms telehealth and telemedicine interchangeably. While they’re connected, each one means something different.

Learn everything you need to know about telehealth vs. telemedicine, including what, specifically, they refer to and when you might need to access one over the other.

When you know the difference between telehealth and telemedicine, you can make an informed decision about your options in different scenarios.

What Is Telehealth?

In telehealth vs. telemedicine, the broader, more general term is telehealth.

When people talk about telehealth, they may be referring to any of a wide range of health-related uses of digital technology

Examples of using telehealth include:

  • Attending a free online workshop run by a medical facility explaining how to reduce stress in your life.
  • A team of healthcare professionals meeting via Zoom to discuss possible treatment options for a patient. 
  • A hospital doctor adding notes to a patient’s health records electronically.
  • Using a Fitbit or other fitness tracker to monitor and improve your physical activity levels. 

When you think of telehealth, it’s often about an exchange of health-related information using digital means. 

What Is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is really a subset of telehealth. It’s a more specific term that applies to healthcare clinical services accessed through your mobile phone, tablet, or computer.

Examples of making use of telemedicine include:

  • Talking with a pediatric nurse online for ways to ease your child’s discomfort when they have a cold.
  • Discussing your medical needs with your doctor through a video call when you don’t feel well enough to go into the facility.
  • Viewing and discussing your ultrasound images with a medical professional remotely.

With telemedicine, you’re getting more than general information. You’re getting medical services specific to your case, provided online instead of in person. 

The Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine

The primary difference between the terms telemedicine and telehealth has to do with scope. 

  • Telehealth is broader in scope and refers to health-related training, communication, information exchange, and services using some form of electronic technology. 
  • Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth and refers specifically to health-related services provided remotely.

In other words, telemedicine is a type of service-oriented telehealth offering. Meanwhile, telehealth can also include fitness trackers, electronic health records, online discussions between care providers, and health courses.  

Telehealth and Telemedicine Both Have Their Place 

In today’s healthcare landscape, both telehealth and telemedicine play important roles.

There’s no doubt that telehealth has made it easier for medical providers to keep up with continuing education, connect with patients through apps, and create more detailed health records. Patients benefit from telehealth by having a convenient way to access health records, find specialists, and access online modules about making healthy lifestyle improvements.

Telemedicine health services make quality healthcare more accessible to many patients. If you’re experiencing a health concern, you can talk with a health provider online about your symptoms to see if you can treat them at home or if you should go to a clinic, hospital, or urgent care center.

Both telemedicine and telehealth give you options to help you stay healthier by accessing health-related resources online. In today’s world, being able to get medical help via your cell phone or laptop can be a great way to get the answers you need in a more timely manner. 

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