Telehealth and Telemedicine Tech Changes in the COVID-19 Era

Some medical procedures, of course, still require physical contact: blood tests, injections, dialysis and infusions, radiation therapy, dentistry, chiropractic visits, surgery, “touch-intensive” physical exams, and the like. On the other hand, for people in remote locations or where medical professionals are not geographically close, what is generally put under the umbrella of “tele-medicine” has been helping people and saving lives for years.

Telehealth vs. Telemedicine

Telehealth is a broad category of health-related services, products, and devices that use remote communication to enable the dissemination and perhaps the collection of data allied with the health profession. Participating in a seminar about medical issues, transmitting a prescription to a pharmacy, and collecting data from a monitor are typically defined as being under banner that banner.

On the other hand, telemedicine is generally defined as a more direct communication between a clinician and a patient, regardless of whether it is video or audio-only. If a one-to-one “visit” is virtual, rather than in person, that’s telemedicine. Put another way, if you send data from a home medical sensor or device such as a blood pressure or EKG app, that’s telehealth. When the clinician follows up with you virtually to let you know what the data means, that is telemedicine.

Personal EKG for Telehealth

One other type of telehealth device that has gained popularity in the past year or so is personal EKG (or, as some show it, ECG) products. They give you the ability to have some idea of heart activity other than when you are in the doctor’s office. Always remember that at-home EKG recording is not a substitute for a true EKG taken with 12 or more leads. It cannot, on its own, predict or warn of a heart attack.

Blood Oxygen Saturation

Particularly in the era of the pandemic, another health measurement that is becoming important is blood oxygen saturation. This is not something to look at every day, as you might with blood pressure or perhaps a heart check for readings that might detect Afib. However, if you are in a front-line job or are disease compromised, it’s a good thing to know.