What is Telehealth?
Espoused by telecommunication technology and electronic information, health care services are delivered to individuals remotely. Chronic health conditions are monitored, and advice is provided while ensuring that a long-distance relationship is maintained between the physician and the patient.
The augmenting dependence on technology has called for the popularity in services of this ilk. It also permits the formation of collaborations between various physicians in different parts of the world via technology which, in turn, provides patients with the best kind of service regardless of their location.
What is Telemedicine?
Sometimes mistaken as a synonym of ‘telehealth’, telemedicine refers to the clinical process of telehealth services. Telemedicine essentially refers to the monitoring of a condition and prescription of medicines to a patient by the telemedicine physician, while telehealth bridges the gap in location to deliver these clinical services remotely using clinical technology.
In order words, both these processes compliment each other, and together provide a patient with the flexibility to be diagnosed regardless of where they reside. While telemedicine refers to the sustentation of medical records, and the organization of a presentation between two clinical professionals, telehealth refers to the provision of this presentation via video call or a smart device, and the performance of a robotic surgery, among its other services.
Altercations surrounding the Terms
The etymology of ‘telemedicine’ can be traced back to the 20th century, where the term was used customarily in published accounts in association with space and military sectors across the world. Building up to the frequent use of this terminology by eminent scholars worldwide, a 2007 research study claimed that this is an imperative term in the health industry.
The immediate recognition from the World Health Organization led to the first universal definition of telemedicine: “The delivery of healthcare services, where distance is a critical factor, by all healthcare professionals using information and communication technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of healthcare providers, all in the interests of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.”
However, with the passage of time, individuals began integrating ‘telehealth’ into their vocabularies, and this led to the interchangeable usage of both terms, brewing confusion during conversations. In some reports, it has been stated that both the terms have been used without paying much heed towards their pertinent definitions by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA).
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The subsequent sceptical aura enveloping the broad definitions was brought into awareness in 2010, and led to the evolution of a 2014 research study finding evidence that across the United States of America’s Department of Health and Human Services, there existed six different descriptions of ‘telehealth’ amongst seven separate departments.
An Indian Case Study
Bridging the rural-urban health gap, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in India has labelled ‘web-based telemedicine’ as an imperative area in need of immediate progress. The affordable internet rates in India make it easier to adopt the e-health lifestyle, and have thus led to the steady rate of acceptance of telemedical health services over the past decade.
With most reputed and qualified doctors living in urban areas, the concept of telehealth has been brought into the limelight to provide high quality health services to citizens living in rural localities. Keeping up-to-date with the current scenario, a recent newspaper article highlighted that at least 80% of the doctors in Northern India have endorsed telemedicine, followed by 50% of the doctors in Western and Southern India. It was also reported that Eastern jurisdictions in India have the lowest embrace over the usage of telemedicine.
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