Today’s healthcare ecosystem is filled with references to and examples of telemedicine and telehealth – in some cases, the two terms are used interchangeably. Whether they mean the same thing is a topic of considerable debate.
In general terms, telemedicine is considered the clinical application of technology, while telehealth encompasses a broader, consumer-facing approach – “a collection of means or methods, not a specific clinical service, to enhance care delivery and education,” according to the federal network of telehealth resource centers.
“While ‘telemedicine’ has been more commonly used in the past, ‘telehealth’ is a more universal term for the current broad array of applications in the field,” the TRC network states in its online resource guide. “Its use crosses most health service disciplines, including dentistry, counseling, physical therapy and home health, and many other domains. Further, telehealth practice has expanded beyond traditional diagnostic and monitoring activities to include consumer and professional education. Note that while a connection exists between health information technology (HIT), health information exchange (HIE) and telehealth, neither HIE nor HIT are considered to be telehealth.”