Telehealth Resources

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Difference Between Telemedicine and Telehealth

By Dr. Sherri L. Dehaas

Adding Telemedicine to Your Medical Practice

In this day and age where technology, its products and services are developing very fast, it can be somewhat difficult to keep up with all of the advances.


The healthcare system in particular has also seen much of this advancement, as new technologies each day are aimed at placing healthcare in the hands of more people than ever before. Doctors have most likely heard of the words, telemedicine and telehealth before but might not know the meaning or the difference. But today, these are words everyone should be familiar with.  The terms "telehealth" and "telemedicine" are used by most people interchangeably, but should not be so as there are a few key differences. 

The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to aid long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. These technologies range from video-conferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and wireless communications.


Telehealth is different in the sense that it refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services than telemedicine. While telemedicine specifically deals with remote area clinical services, telehealth, on the other hand, doesn't just refer to the clinical services alone but also non-clinical services which include provision of training, administrative meetings, and medical education continuation.

Telemedicine allows physicians to consult not just with their patients but also with other specialists remotely
Telemedicine focuses majorly on providing additional tools for clinicians while telehealth has a broader approach, and includes consumers and end-users in its audience.
In spite of the similarities in definitions, and even the fact that many people use the words interchangeably, doctors ought to know the major differences between telehealth and telemedicine and also how they may affect their practice.

One significant difference is in the application. Telehealth's communication- and monitoring-based services are excellent for empowering patients with the ability to take a more active and autonomous role in managing chronic conditions and monitoring treatment. On the other side of the spectrum, telemedicine technology such as Web-based encounter management software like AGNES Interactive and a suite of high-tech clinical tools and telemedicine carts provide practitioners with a means to extend the effective range of their coverage.


Telemedicine is of great importance in the rural areas where up to standard hospitals are usually hours and hours away.

In the past, certain medical situations required patients to be transported to metropolitan hospitals, which is a lot more costly and always puts a strain on the patient and their families at the same time decreasing time that can be used to save the patient.  But even though telehealth applications can aid the communication between patients and their doctors, they can never be as good as a proper consultation session. 

Let's place all the differences aside, both telehealth and telemedicine are different sections of the healthcare system that aim at improving the availability and the quality of care that is made available to everyone. Reports received shows that one major problem these two sectors have is the need for a very strong healthcare IT infrastructure to support theme.



While both telemedicine and telehealth applications are still in early stages for many healthcare organizations, opportunities for a more effective integration are becoming visible. IT concerns including network speed and security and data storage, also with logistical concerns such as workflow combination and personnel training, have combined to present a great future path for the developing these exciting healthcare technologies.

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