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Telemedicine vs Telehealth vs Virtual Care: Key Differences

Telemedicine Vs Telehealth Vs Virtual Care

Last Updated: 8/17/2023

Rehabilitation therapy practices, from physical therapy to speech-language pathology, are riding the wave of technological evolution. With the increased digitization of patient care options, it’s easy to blur the lines between terms like telemedicine, telehealth, and virtual care. Even among healthcare providers!

Without further ado, let’s dig into the differences between telemedicine vs. telehealth. vs. virtual care.

1. Telemedicine

Definition: Telemedicine specifically refers to remote clinical services. It’s just like having a medical visit, but the provider and patient are in two different locations. Typically, telemedicine requires HIPAA-compliant video appointment platforms and is mainly centered around diagnosis, treatment recommendations, and follow-ups.

Application: For example, physical therapists can guide patients through specific exercises using a video call, or a speech-language pathologist can conduct sessions online. That’s telemedicine in the world of rehab.

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2. Telehealth

Definition: A broader term than telemedicine, telehealth encompasses all remote clinical or non-clinical health services. Like telemedicine, telehealth includes clinical services like patient appointments. However, it can also include non-clinical services such as medical education, administration, and health records. This term is the most common in the world of digital health.

Application: Telehealth in rehab therapy could involve both virtual appointments with patients as well as virtual staff training sessions, continuing education.

3. Virtual Care

Definition: Virtual care is an even broader umbrella. It encompasses any interaction between patients and healthcare providers via digital means. This includes messaging through secure two-way messaging platforms, video consultations, and even the use of wearable devices that transmit data to care providers. These interactions can be synchronous (at the same time, like a video visit) or asynchronous (like a message that the provider reviews later on).

Application: With digital patient engagement tools and portal, virtual care can be as seamless as a patient checking their treatment progress through an app, or therapists receiving real-time data from wearables to adjust a treatment plan.

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Navigating the Digital Health Landscape

With the continued development of virtual health technologies, therapy and rehab practices can offer improved patient experiences, more efficient services, and even extend care beyond common barriers to care. Clarity in how we refer to various services can ensure that providers and patients align their expectations for the best care possible.

Raintree Systems remains at the forefront of technological advancements in rehabilitation technology, offering award-winning solutions like our ONC-certified EHR, all-encompassing patient engagement suite, RCM and billing systems, and business intelligence tools.

We help practices like yours prepare for a future that’s more connected, more informed, and more patient-centric than ever before.

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Blogs are created for educational and informational purposes only.  The information provided does not constitute or, is not intended to constitute, legal or medical advice. When you read this information, visit our website, or access our materials, you are not forming an attorney-client, provider-patient, or other relationship with us.

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