There’s a lot of confusion when comparing Telehealth and Telemedicine. To complicate matters, it seems as if each state has its own legal definition for the terms – according to the Center for Connected Health Policy website.
We’ll try to unravel these terms. But then, most importantly, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of remote healthcare services.
The Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine
Telehealth and telemedicine are two commonly used terms in healthcare. They both refer to the use of technology to deliver care remotely.
However, telehealth generally refers to preventative or non-clinical services, while telemedicine is typically associated with diagnosis, treatment, and medical advice. Both provide a convenient way for patients to receive healthcare services without leaving the comfort of their homes.
What is Telehealth?
Most groups use the term ‘telehealth’ as a broad definition that describes the use of telecommunications technology in the healthcare sector. It’s more than the physician-patient conversation.
Telehealth also refers to a broader scope of medical services, including remote monitoring, the sharing of lab reports, professional health-related education, administrative meetings among healthcare providers, and continuing medical education.
What is Telemedicine?
In most cases, telemedicine refers specifically to virtual visits with healthcare professionals. Telemedicine visits are great options for patients living in underserved or rural areas.
While telemedicine services may not be as ideal as in-person visits, it’s great for patients with chronic conditions who would rather not receive medical care in a germy doctor’s office.
Pros and Cons of Telehealth vs. Telemedicine
There are pros and cons of healthcare services that utilize telecommunications. These pros and cons may change as electronic and telecommunications technologies develop over time. But here are the advantages and disadvantages of telehealth and telemedicine as of 2023.
Benefits of Telehealth Services
Increased Access to Healthcare
Telehealth services can provide healthcare access for patients in remote or rural areas. Remote clinical services can also supplement traditional medical services, allowing patients with limited mobility or time constraints to receive the care they need from home.
Reduced Cost and Travel Time
By using telecommunication technologies, telehealth services can help reduce the costs associated with traveling to receive medical services. Additionally, telehealth eliminates travel time, allowing patients to access healthcare faster and easier.
Improved Quality of Care
Telehealth technologies allow doctors to have direct, real-time interactions with their patients, which can result in better quality care. Doctors can also review patient files remotely and follow up with their patients faster, improving the accuracy of diagnoses and treatment plans.
Telehealth services allow patients to connect with their doctors online, providing greater convenience. Remote doctor’s appointments are especially beneficial for those with busy schedules and limited access to medical care.
Drawbacks of Telehealth
Lack of Physical Assessment
Telehealth visits do not allow for a physical examination with a healthcare provider, which can limit the accuracy of diagnosis and treatment plans.
Due to the use of communication technologies, telehealth services may pose privacy concerns for patients. Proper security measures must be in place to ensure that patient information remains secure and confidential.
Constraints with wireless communications may limit telehealth services. Poor internet connectivity or equipment malfunctions can disrupt telecare visits, causing delays in care.
Difficulty Establishing Relationships
Telehealth technology can make it difficult for doctors to establish meaningful relationships with their patients. This issue is prevalent in telepsychology, where telecommunication technologies may hinder forming a solid doctor-patient relationship.
Benefits of Telemedicine Services
Telemedicine can help streamline the medical process, increasing efficiency and reducing the time needed to receive care. Patients can book an appointment and receive their diagnosis or treatment without traveling.
Physician Access at Home
Telemedicine service allows patients to receive medical advice from a licensed physician at home, making it easier and more convenient for those unable to travel. It can also help increase access to specialty care by connecting patients with specialists in different regions.
Telemedicine reduces healthcare costs by eliminating travel costs and providing more affordable treatments. Additionally, telemedicine visits may be covered by insurance, making them an affordable healthcare option for those with limited budgets.
Improved Patient Experience
Telemedicine can provide a more personalized experience for patients by allowing them to connect with their doctors via telecommunication technologies. Personalized experiences help build trust between patients and their doctors, improving overall care.
Drawbacks of Telemedicine
Reduced Personal Interaction
Telemedicine eliminates the personal interaction between doctors and patients, which can negatively affect care, especially for remote non-clinical services such as mental health care. Healthcare professionals may find it challenging to build meaningful relationships with patients over the internet.
Since telemedicine relies on telecommunication technologies, there is a risk of data breaches and hacking. Proper security precautions must be in place to ensure that patient information remains secure.
Telemedicine may be subject to specific legal issues, including licensure requirements and privacy regulations. Remote healthcare providers must ensure they comply with all applicable laws and regulations.
Due to the lack of physical examination, telemedicine may lead to inaccurate diagnoses or treatment plans. However, health administration professionals can mitigate this by ensuring their telemedicine providers have the necessary skills and training.
Trusted by Global Organizations
The World Health Organization (WHO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recognize the power of telemedicine to support public health.
In 2010, WHO issued a report titled “Telemedicine: Opportunities and Developments,” highlighting telemedicine’s potential to improve access to healthcare services and reduce disparities in healthcare delivery.
To ensure accessible telehealth service provision, WHO and ITU developed the “Global Standard for the Accessibility of Telehealth Services” in 2022 with technical requirements to be met by providers.
AmeriPlan® Offers Remote Healthcare Services
AmeriPlan offers Telehealth Plus – for less than $10 per month for your entire household.
Telehealth Plus includes the following:
- Access to U.S. board-certified doctors and pediatricians by phone seven days a week
- Prescription drug discounts at more than 65,000 chain and independent pharmacies across the country (including diabetic supplies)
- Discounts on over-the-counter medications and diabetic supplies
- Wellness screenings through Life Line Screening
- Discounts on in-office doctor visits and telehealth visits
While it is important to note that AmeriPlan does not offer the same services as an insurance provider, those enrolling in the program have no insurance forms to complete. As a result, AmeriPlan makes healthcare affordable and accessible to patients across the country.
Telehealth and Telemedicine: Key Takeaways
- Telemedicine and telehealth can help streamline medical processes, increasing efficiency and reducing the time needed to receive care.
- Remote health care services allow patients to receive medical advice from a licensed physician at home, making it easier and more convenient for those unable to travel.
- Telecare services can reduce the cost of healthcare by eliminating travel costs and providing more affordable treatments.