What is telemedicine?

Trying to define telemedicine is a bit like trying to define marketing.  Everyone has an idea of what it is but like marketing the definition of telemedicine is far broader than most people realize.  First, telehealth is the correct overarching term to describe the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. (American Telemedicine Association, 2012)  In short, telehealth is the use of technology to deliver health care, education and other services. Telemedicine refers specifically to the delivery of healthcare via technology.  I prefer the term “telemedicine” because it is a more descriptive term. Sometimes, the term mHealth is mentioned.  mHealth, specifically refers to the use of mobile technology and wireless devices. This video offers an excellent overview of telemedicine.  Additional sources for defining telemedicine are located here.

Telemedicine includes a wide range of solutions that offer immediate and long-term benefits to patients, health providers and the healthcare system. The Wall Street Journal ran an excellent article describing telemedicine and its transformation of healthcare.

Below is a partial list of telemedicine services that benefit patients:

Type of service Telemedicine solution
Primary Care Low acuity urgent care
Specialist services Telestroke
Store and Forward (Teledermatology)
Emergency Department consults
Pre and post-operative surgical services
Patient Monitoring In the ICU
Complex Chronic
Skilled Nursing Facilities
Medical Education Continuing Medical Education
Tumor Boards
ECHO Model
Diabetes Education
Wound Dressing
First Aid

INNOVIA(r) has helped many organizations explore telemedicine and determine its role in patient care.  If you would like additional information, please email us!