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Tele-Healthcare: The differences between telehealth, telecare, and telemedicine

Remote healthcare services have grown significantly over recent years, bringing technology and healthcare closer together. Terms like telehealth, telecare, and telemedicine are being used more frequently. The question is, what are the differences between these terms?

Female doctor coming out of computer screen

Telehealth is considered the overarching generalization of remote healthcare technologies and practices. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) defines telehealth as “the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration.” Additionally, HRSA expresses that the technologies used for telehealth include video conferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications. Essentially, telehealth covers both the clinical and non-clinical activities associated with providing remote healthcare.

Telecare is the practice of enabling individuals, typically elderly and physically less able people, to remain independent while receiving support and care from the comfort and safety of their homes. Telecare has been used to alert individuals and caretakers in emergencies through mobile monitoring devices, medical alert systems, automated pill dispensers, and telecommunication technologies.

Telemedicine refers to remote clinical services patients can receive such as interactive medicine, store-and-forward, and remote patient monitoring. Examples include medical diagnosis and evaluations; video consultations with nurses and specialists; and digital medical file sharing, while maintaining compliance with HIPAA rules and regulations. 

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