Technological advances of recent years have made the pandemic much more tolerable than pandemics of the past. We have access to each other via multiple digital platforms, from social media to video chatting. We have access to news through the internet and social media so we know what’s going on in the world, good and bad. We have access to whatever supplies we need to shelter at home, from a new couch all the way down to basic needs like food. Everything we need or want is available at the touch of a button, including medical care.
Telehealth and telemedicine have really been bridging the gap throughout the duration of the pandemic. There are subtle differences between the two, though. Telemedicine is specifically the practice of medicine through remote means, such as when you have a video conference with your doctor to discuss whether a new medication is working.
Telehealth encompasses telemedicine but also encompasses several other types of practices, as well. When medical providers meet to discuss latest techniques or a patient diagnosis virtually, that is a function of telehealth.
When a hospital does patient outreach and education virtually, such as a parenting class via video meeting, that is also a function of telehealth.
Telehealth covers all the virtual aspects of healthcare that are taking place now more than ever in an effort to keep vulnerable patients safe and extend access to healthcare to those who aren’t able or comfortable with going to the doctor’s office in person.
These electronic breakthroughs are not without risk, though. Regulations have been relaxed during this time of pandemic to make it easier for patients to receive medical care through any means possible, including unsecured video conferencing. The downside here is that patient personal information can be accessed when it is sent over unsecured channels, but right now the need to keep patient access flowing outweighs the need for privacy.
Medical providers also have reservations about this type of healthcare in the long term because of concerns about accuracy and privacy.
But for now, telehealth and telemedicine are popular options. As more medical providers equip themselves with the specialized equipment and apps to provide higher quality remote medical care, people who have mobility issues, are immunocompromised, or those who live in rural or remote areas will begin to have greater access to healthcare.
Technology for remote healthcare is improving rapidly, too. Telemedicine carts feature all kinds of instruments that can be used by a qualified medical technician to take readings that a doctor or specialist far away can use to accurately assess what a patient needs. This technology is likely to revolutionize access to medical care across the world.
Patients want access to remote options for medical visits, especially when those visits are routine. Technological advances are making receiving medical care remotely safer, more accurate, and more secure than ever. As providers and hospital groups adopt this technology more patients will have access. Learn more about the differences between telehealth and telemedicine from the infographic below.