People have a wonderful property that has led them onto the road of advancement more than once. They believe that everything can be beneficial. Even during such serious crises as the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity is looking for ways to make life easier and more robust.
The telemedicine vs telehealthcare comparison we are discussing here is one such example. Telemedicine was in use before COVID-19, though not as widespread as it is now. The pandemic has accelerated the development of remote communication methods that facilitate commuting with the patient while they stay at home.
McKinsey's study shows that 50-175 times more patients were using telecommunication technologies during the quarantine than before. More than 40% of surveyed patients displayed the desire to continue using remote medical services.
Remote Healthcare VS Telemedicine
The terms "telehealthcare" and "telemedicine" seemingly are synonymous. Nevertheless, these are different conceptions. Let us discuss in more detail what these mean and what is the difference.
Telehealth is a comprehensive concept that includes a vast number of services carried out using remote communication technologies. These may consist of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, medical education for students and doctors, public health education, and more.
What elements does telehealth include?
Telehealthcare consists of several essential components, including the ability to conduct video consulting in real-time.
One of the most critical telehealth elements is remote monitoring of a patient's state (blood pressure, pulse, heart rhythm, temperature, etc.). This type of service allows the doctor to observe the health of a recently discharged or critical patient closely, make recommendations in the postoperative period, and reduces the risk of sudden deterioration.
Continuous collection and storage of data about the patient, performed treatments and administered medicines is another vital feature. Besides accumulating years of information, such storage can be made available across various clinics and healthcare establishments. The transfer of data takes place through secure electronic channels.
Next, we should mention mobile healthcare. It assumes providing patient support using smartphones or tablets and monitoring the parameters through sensors inherent to mobile gadgets. Mobile apps can deliver the latest news about your health, provide preventive advice, supervise the availability of medicines in nearest drug stores, remind you to take pills on time or consult with a doctor.
Distant care systems are essential for the elderly and patients with disabilities living at home. These are usually also outfitted by remote monitoring devices and sensors to help provide the necessary support to the patient and inform the doctor about any abnormalities.
Telemedicine employs modern communication technologies to provide remote clinical treatment of patients with the help of on-site and distant medical personnel and diagnostic equipment.
What are the typical examples of telemedicine?
The most vivid example of telemedicine is when a patient turns to a doctor using video conferencing software for consultation, diagnosis, or advice on the treatment of a disease. Most such apps also allow sending photos of an injury, rash, medical test, or drug prescription.
Lately, news of successful surgeries where remote specialists control the medical robot or take charge of the surgical brigade started to appear.
Significant Difference between Two Concepts
At first glance, these two concepts are very similar. Let us review the difference between telehealth and telemedicine in more detail.
Telemedicine deals only with personal clinical treatment, diagnosis, and prevention with innovative communication means. Typically, family therapists use telemedicine to observe contractual patients.
In turn, telehealthcare covers a wide range of services, including telemedicine. These may also incorporate open studies, training of medical personnel, dissemination of research results, medicinal insurance, etc. Unlike telemedicine, services can be provided by all health professionals. Upon need, telehealth even allows holding an international online conference discussing some complex cases.
Perspective Innovations in Remote Healthcare
Without a doubt, the future of telehealth is auspicious. With the help of wideband telecommunications, it becomes possible to reduce the waiting time for an appointment with a doctor. Year by year, virtual medical services are becoming more affordable, qualitative, and responsive.
Betterment of medical education is a crucial part of telehealth. Government bodies and IT companies apply a lot of effort to its development. During the pandemic, medical students were attracted to remote patient inspections and VR training, which helped them learn and allowed them to acquire skills and experience safely.
Telemedicine is very suitable for people living in remote areas who find it challenging to reach populated areas with well-equipped hospitals. It is also an excellent solution for patients who are seriously ill and therefore cannot move freely.
The future of telemedicine technology lies in the introduction and combination of promising cutting-edge research to ensure unrestricted interaction between all the related parties and increase the quality and efficiency of medical treatments. In particular, VR, AR, AI, big data, blockchain, machine learning, gene therapy, personalized drugs, and other wonderful innovations are either being tested or introduced into telehealthcare already.
The development of telemedicine and telehealth is linked inextricably with the modernization of equipment and software.
The use of telehealth software helps to solve many pressing problems, for example, such as:
- Access to a patient in an emergency, even if they are non-transportable;
- Remote monitoring of drugs' action to a person, both in clinical trials and in practice, and so on.
Telemedicine software products are used successfully in such specialties as radiology, treatment of chronic diseases, psychiatry, pediatrics, dermatology, etc.
Telemedicine software cost depends on various factors, among which hosting and/or hardware will have the most significant impact. The cheapest will be cloud hosting, where all apps and information are stored in the datacenter. The following considerable factors are the number of users of the application and the breadth of its functionality.
There is a lot of already released open source telehealth software, and new ones are released weekly. This leads to the development of the healthcare industry as a whole because such applications are usually free. At the same time, many contain quite a lot of valuable functions. Open source telemedicine software allows providing patients with secure remote support.
Telemedicine is steadily becoming an essential part of healthcare for the foreseeable future. In this, it is helped by an innovative way of developing digital technologies in telehealth. By combining information communication technology and medicine, telehealth confidently enters our lives.
Artificial intelligence, immersive reality, and devices that help record the patient's round-the-clock condition are aimed at ensuring that the patient receives highly qualified and timely medical care.