Given the continuous changes and new developments in the interconnected fields of telemedicine, mobile health, health IT and digital health, it can be hard to fix on a single, final definition for these concepts. In the healthcare industry nowadays, the words “telehealth” and “telemedicine” are widely considered interchangeable – the ATA even considers them so.
This is likely due in part to the fact that telemedicine and telehealth cover a variety of overlapping methods, such as e-health patient monitoring, patient consultation via video conferencing, transmission of image medical reports, health wireless applications, medical education, and many others.
Technically, however, telemedicine is, in fact, a subdivision within telehealth. While telehealth is a rather broad concept which encompasses all sorts of medical services that are provided via telecommunications technology, telemedicine is narrower and refers particularly to clinical services. Telehealth is defined by the California Telehealth Resource Center as follows:
“Telehealth is a collection of means or methods for enhancing health care, public health, and health education delivery and support using telecommunications technologies.”
Telehealth covers broader medical services, such as public health services. Telemedicine, meanwhile, is a particular type of telehealth, under which doctors provide certain types of services.
The following are some examples:
– A video chat platform for medical education
– An app pertaining to public health, which alerts members of the public about outbreaks of diseases
– A mobile app which allows providers to use video chat in order to treat patients in distant locations
– A software that allows primary caregivers to send pictures of patients’ rashes/moles to a dermatologist based in another location, in order to obtain a swift diagnosis.
Given that the telehealth industry is still undergoing expansion and changes, these two terms are also likely to change and grow to include more types of medical services.