Telehealth vs. Telemedicine: Benefits & Challenges in the Healthcare IT Sector

Telehealth vs. Telemedicine: Benefits & Challenges in the Healthcare IT Sector
With the evolution of technologies and the internet, our life has been transformed into a modern one. Over the years, the ways of interaction with friends and delivering services have been changed. Several health tools are available now to manage healthcare and deliver the best patient care. 

When it comes to healthcare services, several new terms are introduced every day. While some are aware of telehealth, others might not know what it is and how it is benefitting the healthcare sector. 

Telehealth is the use of communication technology and digital information to access healthcare services remotely. These technologies can be used from home and from anywhere you want. 

Let us delve deeper and understand what telehealth is and how it is different from telemedicine. 

What Do You Understand by the Term ‘Telehealth?’ 

The term is better defined as a platform where healthcare, health information services, and health education are delivered via remote technologies. The delivery of health-related services like medical care and patient education is shared through digital communication technologies. It allows long-distance patients, reminders, monitoring, and remote admissions. 

How are Telehealth and Telemedicine Different?

Telehealth and Telemedicine are used interchangeably. Telehealth has evolved more broadly and showed an array of digital healthcare activities and services. Telemedicine has a limited sense to describe clinical services like monitoring.  Telehealth could involve two health professionals communicating for a case over video conference. Robotic surgery can happen remotely. Also, tests can be forwarded for better access by higher specialists. 

The Health Resources and Services Administration differentiates telehealth and telemedicine in several ways. Telemedicine describes remote clinical services, whereas telehealth includes curative care delivery.  

The United States Department of Health and Human Services states that health includes non-clinical services like administrative meetings, and telemedicine means remote clinical services. The WHO uses telemedicine to describe the aspects of healthcare. 

eHealth is another popular term used in the UK and includes electronic medical records and other components of health information technology. Telehealth requires a reliable broadband connection and has become feasible. For instance, you can upload medications and blood sugar levels to get instant feedback. You can also download several health apps to share instant results. 

Telemedicine involves medical data and then transmitting this data to a medical professional at the right time for assessment. Methods like store and forward do not require the presence of a patient and doctor at the same time. Remote monitoring, or better known as testing, allows medical professionals to monitor a patient using several technological devices. 

The goals of telehealth make healthcare accessible to people who live in isolated areas. Also, it provides self-management support and improves coordination among members of healthcare professionals and patients. Sometimes, it is also believed that mHealth is related to telehealth, but they are different in several ways. 

Benefits of Telehealth That Make Patient Experience Better

Telehealth involves digital technologies and allows the patient to communicate with doctors without visiting. This idea of a virtual visit is gaining popularity and is being followed by several health organizations. 

Here’s how telehealth is offering benefits to patients and making user engagement better. 

1. Enhances New Business Models

Telehealth, as a business model, is shaping the healthcare sector. Nowadays, health specialists can launch their telehealth platform to consumers. They can offer services like virtual visits and extend their patient base. Patients can expect enhanced and better outcomes as they have faster access to specialists and other healthcare services. 

2. Improves Clinical Workflows

Telehealth is the priority for healthcare and improves communication by storing and using patient information for better decision-making. Telehealth is important in healthcare and facilitates performance improvements. 

3. Increases Practice Revenue

The healthcare services consume medical experts time and sometimes do not share accurate data. Telehealth is less time consuming and allows physicians to improve efficiency by retaining more patients and low costs. It also provides competitive advantages and new models of care. 

4. Cuts Patients Costs

Patients spend lots of money on taking the best healthcare services. With telehealth, the communication between a patient and a doctor happens over the internet. When a patient visits the doctor, they have to take off their time for commuting, pay for travel, and more. With telehealth, the doctor and patient don’t have to put extra effort as the prescriptions are changed over video calls. 

5. Improves Healthcare Quality

It is believed that telehealth has improved patient care in rural areas. The technology has improved service delivery and the treatment of severe conditions. It is reducing unnecessary visits and improving the treatment. Hospitalized patients who are under the supervision of a specialist can have the advantage of sitting at home with family. 

6. Enhances Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is the key to success in the healthcare sector. A patient survey revealed that the patient showed 99% satisfaction with telehealth. 

They expect better results and access to their health status. Improved operational efficiency gives clinicians time to schedule patient visits. Furthermore, physicians can also earn for being on call as teleconsultants. 

Challenges in Telehealth 

While Telehealth offers benefits to patients and healthcare experts, it also has certain limitations. Telehealth is not only about technologies, but it also requires changes in curating data. It shows a positive effect on patient care but also comes with a risk of poor software engineering and security breaches. 

The upcoming telehealth platforms should be secure and flexible enough to accommodate healthcare organizations' requirements. To use the telehealth services, the users and patients must be aware of the data security and encryptions and should avoid giving confidential information. 

To optimize digital services: telehealth tools should be easy to maintain and must include good internet communication. Regulations and licensing can be a major issue in telehealth. The majority of telemedicine works in a single state. When healthcare providers move into other countries, then licensing becomes a barrier. 

Benefits of Telemedicine

Telemedicine drives up efficiency and provides better access to healthcare services. Here are other benefits that telemedicine offers to healthcare services. 

1. More Convenient and Better Patient Care

According to reports, 74% of patients prefer quick and easy access to their health status. Convenience is the key and is one of the advantages of telemedicine. Patients who live in rural areas or can’t take time off to work can communicate through video conferencing and other online management systems. 

2. Increased Patient Management

When patients know their healthcare goal, it improves their health and leads to lower costs. Engaging patients through telemedicine can help make schedules and appointments. 

3. Better Patient Care Quality

Telemedicine offers improved timeliness of care. Patients can address healthcare issues with real-time consultants and give treatment within minutes. Telemedicine increases access to more individuals and also improves the quality of care that patients receive. 

4. It Reduces Healthcare Costs

Using telemedicine is less costly than in-person appointments. It is found that one telehealth visit saves patient’s around $10-$20. Additionally, with telehealth, doctors can see more patients and cut down overhead costs. 

It also connects patients directly with doctors and medical experts. The majority of a patient’s time is spent waiting for the doctor. But with direct communication, patients can get answers without waiting and other troubles. 

Final Words

Right from patients to doctors, telehealth benefits are reaching rural and urban areas and is continuously increasing its scope. Telehealth plays a crucial role in reducing the spread of infections by social distancing and decides timely interventions. 

Technologies that support telehealth like smartphones, wearable devices, and other devices improve patient care and reduce errors. Here are other healthcare tech trends that you should look forward to in the coming years.
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