Many people, experts even, use these terms interchangeably, when in fact, each term has its own definition. But what is telehealth?
Telehealth is an all-encompassing, broad term that can be defined as the delivery of health care or health-related services through technology. It can occur over long or short distances. Until very recently, telehealth was used mainly in situations where patients faced physical or financial barriers to accessing quality healthcare. Post-pandemic, however, telehealth is much more popular regardless of distance and barriers.
Telehealth refers to any content, tracking or exchange that a person engages in to track or optimize their health. It could be comprised of things like
- Using a computer, phone or tablet to create or maintain food logs, medication logs, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, weight or any other metrics related to health and wellness and sending the information to a healthcare professional for review;
- Viewing a video or reading an article available on your care provider’s website or portal;
- Using an online portal from a care provider to view test results, input health-related data, or request prescription refills
- Schedule or manage appointments with a healthcare provider
- Order medication or medical supplies online
- Send and receive texts, emails and reminders with a healthcare provider for preventive care
It is important to note that telehealth is not necessarily limited to the delivery of services from a physician: rather, the healthcare provider can be licensed in other disciplines. Telemedicine, however, refers to a clinician providing healthcare services to a patient outside the traditional exam room or healthcare facility.
So, telemedicine is actually just one component of telehealth.