Muddling telemedicine and telehealth–the cost?

Categories: Latest News.

A well-known peeve of Editors Steve and Donna (writing) is confusion in terminology, but most especially telehealth (vital signs monitoring) with telemedicine (virtual consults and visits). Why does it grieve us? Clear and exact descriptions of new and generally not well understood tech lead to a better understanding of what said technology can–and cannot–do, across international lines. The corrolary is lack of exactness leading to confusion and lots of my-eyes-glaze-over looks followed by customer ‘and what do you do again?’ When you are trying to gain awareness and acceptance, any marketer can tell you this is not the real estate in the mind to inhabit. Our small effort at clarity is contained in the sidebar to the right, based on what is understood by the WHO, the ATA, the UK DOH and predominant US usage.

So here we go again…In an otherwise well-advocated article in Becker’s Hospital Review (read by healthcare payer and hospital execs, not those precisely at the forefront of adoption, but whom developers want to attract for payment), American Well’s CEO Dr. Roy Schoenberg projects three big trends for telehealth. Now American Well has been fairly successful at providing virtual consults–telemedicine–for the VA, OptumHealth, the RiteAid drugstore chain, Blue Cross Minnesota, and Medibank (OZ/NZ). Ed. Donna picked up this article expecting good news on vital signs monitoring (telehealth), especially as American Well has made some news recently in adding home monitoring from Numera to its capabilities. But what Dr. Schoenberg predicts here, when read carefully, are three big trends for telemedicine: governmental support increasing, practice management system inclusion and consumer demand driving acceptance. All good things, but not ‘three in the quiver’ for those developing or marketing telehealth. Flick over to the website and it is consistent with the (muddled) usage on their website. It does a disservice to what American Well offers and confusion for the Becker’s reader who’s just trying to keep up with…uh…whatchamacallit. 3 future trends (Becker’s Hospital Review) Hat tip to Ellen Fink-Samnick of ‘Ellen’s Ethical Lens’, a new LinkedIn group.

ADDITION from Steve: Let’s throw ‘telehealthcare’ into the mess too with the following newly published article that defines it differently to the way that Tunstall has been pushing it for the past few years. Telehealthcare: How Telehealthcare Has Changed Doctor-Patient Relationships. From iMedsource.