According to a recent Cisco global survey, 74% of patients prefer remote access to their doctor over in-person visits - with that said, easier access to care has been shown to improve outcomes when treating patients.
However, as with any rapid shift in market trends this has led to the emergence of new terminology and definitions in the healthcare industry. The term "virtual health care" is often confused with telehealth, telemedicine, and digital health care. And it’s important to note that there are some differences between each of them.
What is Virtual Healthcare?
Simply put, virtual health services use technology to improve communication and information flow between patients, caregivers, and health care teams.
Any interaction that’s done remotely using any form of communication is considered virtual care - this can include:
- Video sessions
- Text messages
- Phone calls
- Email, or
- Any exchange of patient information between health professionals (such as requisitions, prescription faxes, and lab results)
This article will break down the differences between virtual healthcare and telemedicine & telehealth.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is a broad term that refers to both remote clinical and non-clinical services.
Broadly speaking, telehealth uses the internet to access video-conferencing, paired with audio in real-time between 2 or more people from different locations.
In most cases, healthcare providers & patients will have a portal to access medical records, book appointments online, exchange images, medical documentation, and have the ability to send direct messages to one another.
In order to understand the difference between Telehealth and Telemedicine, it’s important to define various health system roles and personnel.
Health System Roles and Activities
Non-clinical activities are mostly admin-related - this does not include diagnosing, treating, or direct care, but instead refers to supporting patient care management (such as booking appointments and scheduling). Non-clinical roles can be defined as organization executives, admin transcriptionists, IT personnel, pharma reps, public health administration, and anyone else behind the scenes - essentially those that are not patient-facing.
By comparison, clinical roles include physiotherapists, nurses, nutritionists, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapy, and many more.
What is Telemedicine?
The main difference between telehealth and telemedicine is that the latter doesn't include non-clinical healthcare professionals.
In a nutshell, telemedicine is the act of providing health care services directly to patients - and has the same features and tools that telehealth uses to:
- increase patient engagement
- Increase patient satisfaction, and
- improve communication between health providers and patients.
Now that you understand the nuances of virtual care, let's discuss the benefits that they provide to both patients and providers.
The 4 Main Benefits That Virtual Healthcare Offers to Patients
- Saving time/Flexibility - Telehealth and telemedicine reduce travel time, waiting room time, and the need to take off work or find child care.
- Cost Savings - Save money by reducing travel expenses, taking time off work and avoiding in-person appointments that could have been resolved through an email or phone call.
- Accessibility - Patients who live in rural communities with limited resources and access to health care providers can now quickly get in touch with their providers. They can book appointments or ask questions through a patient portal using any device, anytime, from anywhere.
- Patient Engagement - Patients enjoy having access to their medical records and medical history, without the need for contacting their healthcare provider to obtain them.
Most patients feel that they're more involved in their treatment plan and feel supported by self-management resources.
The 4 Main Benefits That Virtual Healthcare Offers to Providers
- Reduced overhead expenses - Providers who offer telemedicine services may incur fewer overhead costs. For example, they may pay less for front desk support or be able to invest in an office space with fewer exam rooms.
- Additional revenue stream - Providers may find that telemedicine supplements their income because it allows them to provide more patient care. They're able to spend more time with their patients and see patients outside of their geographical range.
- Improves clinical workflows and increases practice efficiency - Using an all-in-one telemedicine software can save providers from travel time, unnecessary appointments that could be resolved through a virtual session, and reduce admin overhead and burden. In addition, easy and quick access to a health professional could potentially reduce the strain on urgent care facilities across the globe.
- Increased patient satisfaction - Reduced wait times, travel time, and the convenience of accessibility increase patient satisfaction. A happy patient can have a positive effect on chronic conditions and lead to further appointments, more positive reviews, and more referrals.
Virtual care, telehealth, and telemedicine are paramount to healthcare providers and patients to improve efficiency in several ways.
Virtual care has been a part of our healthcare system for decades, but hasn't had a significant impact until the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.
Maintaining access to remote care has been particularly important and continues to shift our health care organization for the long haul. A big takeaway from the pandemic is that it doesn’t matter how patients engage with the health care system - as long as it’s high-quality, valuable, and patient-centered.
The Most Cost-Effective Virtual Healthcare Solution on the Market
Adracare is a low-cost, all-on-one telehealth and practice management solution with features that help clinics across North America, Europe and Australia increase profitability, reduce expenses, improve clinic productivity - and most importantly boost quality of care.
All of Adracare solutions come with high-quality, secure and compliant HD video conferencing - including HIPAA, PIPEDA and PIPA, with end-to-end encryption. Our telehealth clinics aim to better serve their patients better with advanced features such as custom forms, questionnaires, patient appointment reminders, and much more.
To learn more about Adracare, contact us today.