What are Telehealth and Telemedicine?

Telehealth and Telemedicine, considered interchangeable terms, refer to not-so-new technologies that transform the way healthcare services are delivered. Closely associated with telemedicine is “telehealth,” which is often used to encompass a broader definition of remote healthcare that does not always involve clinical services.

Typical Technologies

  • video conferencing
  • two-way real-time voice and visual communication via video phones
  • the Internet
  • store-and-forward devices
  • email
  • streaming media
  • landline and wireless communications for a variety of applications.

Videoconferencing via videophone, video softphone; transmission of still images; e-health, including patient portals; remote monitoring of vital signs; continuing medical education; and nursing call centers are all considered important parts of telehealth and telemedicine.

Starting over forty years ago, as a means to improve patient care and health status, hospitals provided care to patients in remote areas by providing long-distance healthcare service and knowledge-sharing, using information and communications technologies. This is thought of as long-distance clinical healthcare, which includes practitioner-to-patient meetings (telemedicine encounters), practitioner-to-practitioner discussions (telemedicine consults) and exchange of clinical information. The use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications is for the health and education of the patient and healthcare provider.

 

Typical Applications

Including mental health consultations (correctional facilities, outpatient clinics, direct to the home), socialization for homebound or isolated patients, hospice care and spinal cord/brain trauma physical rehab.

Telecommunications technologies like video softphones are key to supporting delivery of healthcare services, where distance or mobility is a critical factor; patient home healthcare; professional health-related education; and public healthcare and administration.

New telehealth applications, such as speech pathology and medication-intake monitoring, as well as clinical trials and studies are relying, increasingly, on the use of video softphones, as cost-effective, integral parts of daily health care practice.

In general, “telemedicine” refers to clinical services conducted via telehealth technologies, and “telehealth” is used as an umbrella term to encompass telemedicine applications.

Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty. Products and services related to telemedicine are often part of a larger investment by healthcare institutions in either information technology or the delivery of clinical care.

The V2VIP™ Basic TeleMed Bundle includes a video phone and/or video softphones for a PC, laptop or, smartphones and tablets and a calling plan for use in patient care to reduce or eliminate drive time for the provider and patient, as well as cutting the expense, risks, and liabilities associated with travel.

The TeleMed Bundle enables audio and video communication for the healthcare professional to interact directly with the patient and/or with another medical professional. It is not restricted to one single place and actually can take place between two remote sites located anywhere in the world.