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Telemedicine vs Telehealth: What’s the difference?

Dec 14, 2020

As far as electronic communications go, healthcare over the phone or the internet can sometimes still feel like something of the future. The reality though is we’re already in a time, both because of technological advancements and necessity of a global pandemic, where we utilize these health care services. As you’re looking into your options for at-home healthcare, you may be wondering about the difference between the terms telemedicine and telehealth. Are they the same? No, they’re not, and we’re going to outline the differences for you below. 

What’s the Big Difference Between Telemedicine and Telehealth?

There’s a simple difference between these two that we can state for you to start. The term telehealth refers to a broader range of healthcare services than telemedicine does. Okay, let’s break that down a little bit more.


Telehealth refers more to the actual use of telecommunications technologies to support healthcare at a distance rather than the healthcare being provided during the online session. This means telehealth includes a broader scope of remote healthcare services. Services telehealth can refer to include remote non clinical services as well as clinical. There’s a big difference there – the non clinical vs clinical. Telehealth is simply referring to the telecommunications technology that allows for both of these to be taken care of at a distance, as well as many other forms of telehealthcare.

Technologies Used for Telehealth

There’s a wide range of technologies that can be used for telehealth services. One popular option is video calls or conferences. There’s also only audio calls. A large number of services will be conducted through wireless technologies, such as store-and-forward imaging. Some hospitals or doctor’s offices may even use smartphone apps. A majority of telehealth services will utilize the internet to send information, messages, or have those virtual video chats. 


We talk separately about telemedicine because it refers specifically to the providing of clinical services from afar. It’s a huge advantage that doctors are able to deliver clinical services to patients who are far away or need to be seen remotely. We will simply call it telemedicine when the doctor is using the practice of medicine in order to diagnose or treat a patient via this technology. This means that the virtual visit is defined as clinical, as opposed to nonclinical. The technologies and software used make sure that the video and audio sessions between doctor and patient are secure since private information is being discussed. 

The Difference Between Clinical and Nonclinical

We have outlined that telemedicine refers only to remote clinical services and telehealth includes both clinical and non clinical uses of technology for healthcare. So you may be asking next, what’s the difference between clinical and non clinical healthcare? Well, our first hint is that there won’t be any checking of vital signs in a non clinical setting.


Nonclinical refers to things like meetings and continuing medical education, provider training, administrative meetings, and anything similar. Nonclinical staff are typically office employees doing business and administrative work. There is no diagnosis of illnesses and no treatment elicited. 


Staff who are considered on the clinical side of hospitals and healthcare settings work directly with diagnoses and treatment. That doesn’t mean one has to work with a patient to be considered clinical, it can also include those who work in the lab. As long as a visit is pertaining to diagnosis and treatment, then it is considered clinical. That goes for the employees as well, who typically need certification, licenses, or advanced degrees in order to be clinical. 

If you’re in need of medical help but can’t or don’t want to leave your home, your doctor or insurance may offer telehealth services. But, when you’re searching around for these, you’ll want to seek out and search for the word telemedicine. If you need real time help with medical issues, telemedicine is your virtual option. 

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