Telehealth vs Telemedicine: What is the Difference?

May 12, 2023
Telehealth vs Telemedicine: What is the Difference?

What is Telehealth

Telehealth refers to using digital technologies by patients, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders to improve human health. It is a subset of E-Health, which delivers health-related information, education, and training of healthcare workers, healthcare management, and medical services to patients through virtual channels.

Telehealth goes beyond simple remote interactions between patients and physicians. Through apps, it enables virtual clinical meetings, medical training, and health check-ups.

Here are a few examples of Telehealth in action:

  1. Patients can use a mobile app to check their blood pressure and cholesterol levels from home.
  2. Patients can view their lab reports, book appointments, and order prescribed drugs through an online self-service portal, such as a patient portal.
  3. Online reminders can be sent to patients for medicine refills, vaccinations, or medical checkups, helping to ensure that they stay on top of their healthcare needs.

The Advantages of Telehealth

Telehealth offers several benefits, including:

  1. Remote Health Monitoring: By using remote technology, physicians can monitor patients' health progress, even when they are not physically present. Devices that record weight, blood pressure, and pulse rate can transmit this data directly to physicians. This enables doctors to monitor patients' health and identify minor problems before they become big ones.
  2. Mobile Health: mHealth provides ongoing health status updates through mobile apps, allowing patients and healthy individuals to track their health. Patients can receive healthcare and educational support via mobile phones, tablets, and computers, using text messages, WhatsApp, or phone calls. Mobile health offers a reliable mode of communication despite location constraints.
  3. Video Consultation: Patients can easily connect with physicians through video calls to discuss treatment options and lab reports. Live video consultations also work well when physicians in different locations need to collaborate on diagnoses.
  4. Cost Savings: Telehealth helps hospitals reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs while enabling healthcare providers to deliver quality care worldwide.
  5. Improved Access in Rural Areas: Telehealth technology is especially beneficial in rural areas, where patients have access to various specialist doctors and physicians can see more patients. Patients with limited mobility or no caregivers can quickly contact specialist physicians. Telehealth also addresses transportation challenges and provides medical help to treat common symptoms.

What is Telemedicine

Telemedicine service allows patients to receive medical services remotely through communication tools instead of traditional in-person appointments with their physicians. This method became especially important during the recent pandemic, as telemedicine apps provided a way for patients to receive quality care while minimizing contact.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines telemedicine as "healing from a distance." With telemedicine, doctors and patients can share real-time information with each other, and doctors can even prescribe medications without physical interaction. This increased accessibility and patient engagement make telemedicine a valuable option for healthcare delivery.

Here are a few examples of Telemedicine in action

  • Online screening and remote patient engagement before individuals enter a healthcare facility.
  • Virtual consultations with specialists who might not be available through traditional healthcare delivery methods.
  • Access to information that can contribute to better outcomes.
  • Improved healthcare for individuals in rural areas who might otherwise lack access to innovative techniques and information.
  • Virtual dental visits that can expand access to care to a wider audience.

The Advantages of Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers several benefits, including:

  • Reduced Exposure to Pathogens: Telemedicine eliminates the need for face-to-face interaction between healthcare providers (HCPs) and patients, reducing the risk of catching diseases through pathogens.
  • Middle-of-the-night Care: Telemedicine provides instant medical services from remote locations and is accessible to patients anytime.
  • Improves Doctor Safety: Online consultations between patients and physicians work well during unexpected events like pandemics and lockdowns, ensuring the safety of doctors and medical staff.
  • Support for Patients with Chronic Diseases: Telemedicine is a convenient option for patients with chronic diseases, as it allows them to receive medical care without physically visiting hospitals.
  • Online Psychiatric Support: Patients with psychiatric disorders can benefit significantly from telemedicine, receiving personalized care and quick recovery.

Despite their differences, both telehealth and telemedicine aim to provide medical care to individuals who live in distant regions. 

When to Use Telehealth vs. Telemedicine?

As a patient, knowing whether to use telehealth or telemedicine can be confusing. Generally, telemedicine is the term used for remote medical services and is the more common option for patients. For example, you may choose to have a telemedicine appointment with your primary care provider for a condition like a urinary tract infection or to refill a prescription. It's also a convenient way to speak with a therapist about mental health concerns or to get a COVID-19 screening.

However, telemedicine may not be appropriate in some situations, and you need to seek in-person care. If you experience severe symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain, it's essential to call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room. Always consult your healthcare provider to determine the best action for your specific needs.

Difference Between Telehealth And Telemedicine



Telehealth is the use of digital technologies to improve human health. It is a part of E-Health and involves virtual health-related information, education, and medical services.

The telemedicine service enables patients to receive medical services remotely using communication tools instead of traditional in-person appointments with their physicians.

Includes non-clinical ones such as patient education, online healthcare-related communication, and training for healthcare professionals.

Does not include non-clinical services

Technology used: 

Videoconferencing, email, text, streaming media

Technology used: Videoconferencing, email, text, online patient portals

Final Thoughts 

While Telehealth encompasses a broader range of remote healthcare services, Telemedicine specifically refers to remote medical services provided by healthcare professionals. If you're considering a telemedicine appointment, it's essential to understand the difference and determine which service will best meet your needs. We hope this comparison between Telehealth and Telemedicine has helped clarify any confusion and provided insight into their respective uses.