The Anatomy of Telemedicine

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic most industries moved entirely online, or to hybrid models (a combination of in-person and online). The healthcare sector was no exception, the use of telehealth has grown 38 times higher since the first lockdown. Even once it’s safe to return to the office, it looks like the increased numbers of people working from home and using telehealth are here to stay. Whether you’re like one of the 40% of Americans that plan on using virtual healthcare post-pandemic, or someone who can’t wait to see their doctor in person we want to help you understand a bit more about telemedicine, and what it can do for you!

Telehealth vs. Telemedicine

What is exactly do we mean by “telehealth” and “telemedicine“? Are they the same thing?

Telehealth is the general practice of using digital technology, information, and telecommunication technologies for any aspects of healthcare remotely such as health education, administration, and patient care.

Telemedicine uses digital tools and information, along with remote communication technology (such as video calls), to provide direct care, treatment, and diagnosis remotely. Telemedicine is a type of telehealth.

Can Telemedicine Really Replace Going to the Doctor’s Office?

While physically going into a doctor’s office or lab is sometimes necessary, many common issues can be easily taken care of remotely, and certain aspects can be made much easier through the use of virtual care:

  • Virtual Visits- Just like any other doctor’s visit but online! Patients can meet with a doctor or another healthcare provider, usually though a videoconferencing platform.
  • Mental Health Care and Resources
  • Coordinating Care- With all of a patient’s information in a central digital platform, it is easier for a specialists to weigh in.
  • Receiving Test Results
  • Wearable Medical Devices- used to track or measure aspects of a patient’s health over a longer period of time, with the data being sent automatically to the provider or another centralized location.
  • Scheduling Appointments
Image of an empty doctor's office- Telemedicine can be used for many aspects of healthcare previously provided in person.

Where Do I Go?

While you don’t have a physical office to go to, you’ll still have to prepare for your visit. Most providers use mobile applications– for phone or tablet, or online portals to keep all your information in one place. If this is an account, you’ll need to set up an account with an ID and Password to access the services and information. Some online portals can only be used on a laptop or desktop computer, and many applications can only be used with a phone or a tablet. Your provider’s office should be able to tell you what you need, or you’ll be given the information when setting up your account.

Image of a doctor speaking to a patient. Although in person interactions with a provider may be limited, most telemedicine platforms allow patients to speak with providers through virtual communication.

How Do I Talk to my Doctor?

With many digital platforms, we know it can be difficult to reach a real human! While there may be a chatbot or automatic response function for frequently asked questions, don’t worry– you’ll still be able to talk directly to a real provider through:

  • Videoconferencing
  • Email
  • Chat
  • Phone

We hope this helped answer some of your questions about what telemedicine is, and how to use it. Concerned about how to make sure your personal data is protected during your visit? We have some tips for you here. Let us know what you think about telemedicine in the comments below!