What's the Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine?

Telehealth or Telemedicine

You may have heard of “telehealth” and “telemedicine” already. Maybe you saw the headline of a news article online while drinking your morning coffee. But what are they? Is there even a difference?

It helps to break the words down. Since both words begin with “tele-,” let’s start with their differences, “health” and “medicine.”

As you might suspect, “health” and “medicine” are different. If you have health, you don’t need medicine. So health is when a person is not sick and does not have a need for medicine. Most people would agree they would like to stay this way.

Since that isn’t possible, we have “medicine.” In this use, it refers to diagnosing, treating, and ideally, preventing medical issues.

“Tele-“ explains what is being done with health and medicine to complete the full meaning of the word. In this instance, it is short for “telecommunication,” which is basically using technology to communicate over a distance. Using the internet like you are right now is a form of telecommunication.

So now we can understand the full words: telehealth and telemedicine.

Telehealth is a broad term used to describe any health-related service which uses telecommunication technology, such as the internet or a mobile app, to reach its users. It can be used for many things such as educating the public, training people in the medical profession, or making remote diagnoses. A website helping people prepare for flu season, a video conference to train nurses, and a doctor making a remote diagnosis using information from an app are all part of telehealth.

This last bit, the part about remote diagnoses, is where telemedicine comes in. Telemedicine is just that. It allows doctors to receive medical information from a person remotely using technology instead of a face-to-face visit. From there, they can make a diagnosis.

This all sounds futuristic and complicated but these technologies are being used to make some health services easy, affordable, and available to many more people than before. These are the goals Smart Vision Labs had in mind when creating their mobile vision technologies.

Smart Vision Labs has used telemedicine to create their 5-Minute Vision Test. This test works like an updated version of that old-school eye chart in your eye doctor’s office. It still checks if your vision is great or if you have trouble seeing either near or far distances. The technology is just as accurate as a doctor standing next to you asking if you can read that next row of tiny letters. The collected results are sent to a licensed eye doctor who lets you know through email if you need a prescription for eyeglasses.

And that is what telemedicine actually looks like in practice. The technology sends medical information from the person taking the vision test to the doctor for a diagnosis and back to the patient with the results. The patient never had to set foot in a waiting room or struggle to read an eye chart.

This allows many people who never had access to vision testing to see to the best of their ability. Because the technology isn’t tied to a doctor’s office, it can reach people who can’t get to one. The Smart Vision Labs vision tests have helped many people see better like busy moms, uninsured people, or poor children living around the world.

The future of the eye exam is here and it has created an unparalleled freedom that has tapped into today’s technology.

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What is Telemedicine? What Effect Will It Have on the Care of Your Eyes?
How Often Should You Have an Eye Exam?
Vision Exams and Eye Health

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