Finding the Right Term for Modern Healthcare
No doubt, the healthcare has changed enormously in the last months leading to the almost inflationary use of terms like telemedicine, virtual care or telehealth. They all sound similar but what do they actually mean?
Telemedicine, a term already used in the 1970s, stands literally for “healing at a distance” and signifies the use of technology (i.e. phones) to improve patients’ health outcomes by increasing access to care and information.
Whereas, virtual care is widely used as a broad term which refers to telemedicine in terms of “healing at a distance” but is much broader and covers a variety of digital healthcare services.
However, the American Telehealth Association, founded in 1993, endorses the term telehealth on their website (also in incorporated in the name of the organization) by claiming that what was, beforehand, called telemedicine includes now a much broader array of services and technologies – AI, virtual reality and behavioral economic, just to name a few examples.
But what is a TELEMEDICAL?
It is time to define a new term. Thinking of pharmaceuticals which help patients to deal with a variety of symptoms. A TELEMEDICAL in this context is a digital tool, which as a pharmaceutical cannot be prescribed but, which helps patients to connect with the health professionals, to learn about the disease management, to access data (images, reports etc.) and to avoid unnecessary hospital treatment through remote monitoring devices.
 Strehle EM, Shabde N. One hundred years of telemedicine: does this new technology have a place in paediatrics? Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2006, 91(12):956–959.  https://www.americantelemed.org/resource/why-telemedicine/  Marquard IA, TELEMEDICOLS LLC