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Telehealth vs. Virtual Care

It is human tendency to compare any new or innovative thing with something that already exists. Telehealth or Telemedicine falls under this category. It feels underutilized in its potential and unappreciated with respect to what it has to offer. Here in this article, we will compare Telehealth to everyday virtual care.

There is no denying that we are always on the lookout for new and convenient alternatives to what we currently have. In the current healthcare landscape, we find ourselves using many new words and terminologies– Telemedicine, Telehealth, Digital Health, Virtual Care to name a few. With the ever-evolving technology, how are we to keep up with these terms leave alone know what they mean or the difference, if any at all.

Are they all the same or is this a ruse to confuse consumers and the market–by using the same term in many different ways? Old wine in a new bottle, maybe? Not to forget the trending hashtags they all eventually become.

All of us this past year have gravitated to some form of telemedicine, even though prior to the pandemic it was still used successfully by providers. With the COVID-19 scenario and self-quarantines and lockdowns, and the main reason for not wanting to increase exposure by spending time in waiting rooms with other potentially infected people, the need to use the digital platform has been more relevant than before.

Either we have started to virtually talk to doctors now or know someone who vouches for its convenience and yet, the rest of the world has not jumped on this bandwagon, why?

Whether we love using the platforms or are still on the fence about this technology, the reason can be any, but the technology is here to stay and is slowly on the rise in the market share.

It’s time now to find the right term for all things that fall under Modern Digital Healthcare. Let’s take a look at each to put some perspective.

Telehealth

Telehealth or telemedicine, both used interchangeably, is when a healthcare professional, virtually connects through a teleconference mode with the patients. There are many methods that are used with basic internet and video camera to connect using a desktop, smartphone, tablet, etc.

Some of the fairly obvious benefits of telehealth are saving on any unnecessary travel time, parking and flexibility due to the comfort of being at home while talking to the healthcare professional.

The challenges like poor internet/bandwidth, lack of privacy, cost barriers, technology glitches to name a few also exist. It is an important factor to note that not everyone has access to high-speed internet connectivity, one of the main barriers to telehealth’s success. Another factor is that not all conditions are convenient to be treated over a conferencing app.

Specialist services, common illness and chronic conditions seem to be still the common conditions for which telehealth is being used today.

Virtual Care

This is a very broad spectrum of all the ways healthcare providers interact remotely with patients. While telehealth is long-distance patient care, in short, virtual care is a broader term that is used for a whole variety of healthcare services using a myriad of technology solutions.

Apart from using teleconferencing tools to communicate with patients, virtual care offers other means to keep in constant touch with patients through message, audio/video, etc. Basically, using all possible means to stay remotely in touch and communicating with patients.

Some of the things that fall under virtual care could be monitoring vitals possibly after surgery or discussing diagnosis or conditions and treatment plans.

In short, telemedicine or telehealth is here to stay. This is a means to transform the current post-pandemic world and deliver top-notch medical expertise and services by breaking down barriers of time and distance. Anyone anywhere can use this anytime.

If you are already not a part of this new normal, now is the time for you to explore the plethora of benefits telehealth has to offer. You can visit Docty to consult with doctors online as well as check your symptoms to understand probable pre-diagnosis amongst other things.

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