These two terms have been highly discussed through the COVID-19 pandemic, but what do these two words exactly mean?
Telehealth is a healthcare service that is delivered using technologies such as video, email, text, and cell phones. It is a broad scope that includes medical care, medical education, and healthcare administration. Telehealth encompasses telemedicine and much more, and it refers to services beyond online doctor visits. On the other hand, telemedicine is considered a telehealth service, and only refers to medical services delivered by a healthcare provider to a patient using technology. This includes diagnosis and treatment of conditions, medication management, and screening for diseases.
Telemedicine includes annual wellness visits, eye exams, nutrition/mental health counseling, urgent care for certain conditions, and prescriptions and refills for medications.
Telehealth includes telemedicine plus additional activities such as primary care doctor sending patient information such as medical history, to a specialist through a secure email messaging system. Other examples include a team of doctors, nurses, and specialists meeting through interactive video platform to discuss patient care.
Telehealth has many benefits for patients and providers. For patients is helps save time by avoiding commute or waiting room time. With the current condition with COVID-19, it will avoid having individuals being exposed to other patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Benefits for providers includes being able to treat patients from different geographical areas, receive patient data faster and efficiently from other healthcare providers.
Now, you must be wondering if telehealth and telemedicine is covered by insurance. And the answer is that it depends on your coverage plan, but usually most private insurance plans cover some telemedicine services. Although, insurance is not required to use telemedicine apps, and insurance liked Medicare has expanded telemedicine coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, so that patients can avoid exposure to COVID-19, and can reduce wait time. Other insurance providers such as Medicaid has also covered some telemedicine services in all 50 states and Washington D.C., but coverage varies in each state.
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