Telehealth vs. Telemedicine: What’s the Difference?

telehealth vs telemedicine

Written By: Lighthouse Editorial Team

Our editorial team includes content experts that contribute to Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s blog. Editors and medical experts review our blogs for accuracy and relevance. We consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA and NIDA to provide you with the most comprehensive addiction-related content.
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Lighthouse Editorial Team. "Telehealth vs. Telemedicine: What’s the Difference?." Lighthouse Recovery Institute., Last updated Jan 12, 2021 at 11:20AM | Published on Jan 12, 2021, https://lighthouserecoveryinstitute.com/telehealth-vs-telemedicine-whats-the-difference/.

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Last updated Jan 12, 2021 at 11:20AM | Published on Jan 12, 2021 | Addiction Treatments

In response to COVID-19, many addiction treatment centers closed while others tapped into remote health care options. With it, the popularity of remote services increased. Accordingly, many people are wondering about the different modalities available, in specific, telehealth vs. telemedicine. At first glance, these two appear to be synonymous. In reality, these words refer to particular elements of offering remote health care. 

What’s Telehealth?

In short, telehealth refers to a broader term that encompasses health information services and education. The term telehealth includes all technologies and services needed to provide patient care. This includes remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education. 

Thanks to telehealth technology, doctors can perform remote diagnoses, evaluate patients, and detect medical conditions while the patient is at home. It also allows for online prescriptions of medicines and treatments. 

What’s Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is a narrower scope of the word telehealth. It has a more specific meaning, focusing on education remotely and health care services using telecommunication technologies. In essence, telemedicine is the use of information technologies to provide remote clinical services. 

Thanks to telemedicine, doctors can provide clinical services to patients without an in-person visit. This helps with follow-up visits, management of chronic conditions, medication management, and specialist consultations. Services like counseling and therapy are also provided via video communication or two-way messaging; those are examples of telemedicine.

What About Telecare?

Another not so popular term, but an important one is a telecare. This relates to the technology that allows patients to maintain their independence and safety at home. Overall, telecare includes technology like mobile monitoring devices, medical alert systems, telephones, and computers. 

Mostly, telecare is helpful for seniors or physically impaired patients who wish to maintain their independence. Additionally, telecare can be helpful for anyone with chronic conditions that require ongoing management. By having access to telecare technology, they can track lifestyle changes over time, receive alerts, and access healthcare provided on-demand. 

Differences Telehealth vs. Telemedicine

The best way to understand the differences between telehealth vs. telemedicine is to know how the information is delivered. 

TelehealthTelemedicine
Electronic information like digital images, videos, or text files stored on a computerThe delivery of clinical care using telecommunication technology
Technologies like smartphones, wearable devices, and video conferencing servicesFollow up consultations via text message, phone call, or video conference
Provides both non-clinical and clinical servicesProvides mostly non-clinical and educational services
Services provided can be clinician-patient, between clinicians, or between two medical devices.Services provided are mostly between clinician-patient

As you can see, telemedicine is a part of telehealth. However, it all boils down to how the information is delivered and between whom it is delivered. For example, not all video conferencing is telemedicine. If a patient has a video conference with their doctor, that’s telemedicine. But, if the conversation is between surgeons and medical students, it’s telehealth. 

Online Assistance with Lighthouse Recovery Institute

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit most of the world, at Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we didn’t want that to stop us from helping our patients during this stressful time. Thankfully, with telemedicine services, we could offer remote diagnosis, counseling, and follow-ups with our patients and support new ones. 

If you or someone is struggling with substance abuse, don’t let anything get in the way of seeking help. Contact us today and start your consultation to learn more about our rehab programs, treatment services, and talk to our therapists to find the best way to begin your recovery journey. 

🛈 This page’s content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek your physician’s advice or another qualified health provider with any medical condition questions—full medical disclaimer.

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