There’s a lot of buzz around telehealth these days. Many companies have announced investments and mergers into this space. The recent announcement of Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway joining forces to tackle healthcare costs has many experts convinced telehealth and artificial intelligence is part of their solution.

One thing we’ve noticed is that there are a lot of “tele” terms interchanged – telehealth, telecare, telemedicine, and teleassistance. With a variety of similar terms, it’s easy to have an arbitrary idea of tele(fill in the blank) without a tangible way to use it in your organization. We want to help breakdown each of these terms and share ways we see them in action in Workers’ Compensation & Disability.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is certainly the broadest term of the four. Consider it the bucket that holds the other three terms inside of it. Telehealth refers to any healthcare services provided via telecommunications (i.e. a phone or phone system), but advanced telehealth solutions also use video, apps, imaging, and artificial intelligence.

Patients are usually the focus of these solutions, but it also includes non-patient healthcare interactions. This can be as simple as calling providers to verify clinical information or as complicated as coordinating appointments and procedures across multiple providers and specialists.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is similar to telehealth. You’ll see some companies say “telemedicine” when referring to what we defined above as “telehealth.” For clarity’s sake, telemedicine is specific to remotely providing healthcare services with a clinical or medical focus, specifically in the areas of medicine and pharmacy.

What is Telecare?

Telecare usually refers to patients having telehealth technologies that allow them to take “care” of medical issues themselves. The ability for a patient to manage long-term medical issues with telecare allows for independence with remote monitoring in case of emergency.

What is Teleassistance?

Teleassistance is more often used to describe the assistance provided by clinicians alongside an advanced technology or artificial intelligence. In a previous article, we’ve referred to this as augmented intelligence. There are so many great automated technologies in healthcare, but they often still need human intervention to truly impact patient lives.

The Workers’ Comp & Disability industry has been historically slower to adopt tele technology solutions, but we’re seeing a fast shift towards utilizing it more – especially among Managed Care Providers. This shift will cause a greater need for nurses in an already depleted supply.

Here are some of the ways we’ve worked with Workers’ Comp & Disability clients in this space:

  • Utilization Review
  • Health Coaching
  • Claim Certification
  • Remote Health Assessment
  • Nurse First Response
  • Nurse Triage
  • Network Management Services
  • Appointment & Assessment Scheduling

If you’d like to learn more about how Shearwater Health can support your telehealth solutions or technologies, contact us.