Until recently the term ‘telemedicine’ was defined as the delivery of remote clinicalservices via two-way audio and video communication. It was considered to be part of ‘telehealth’, whichin addition to telemedicine services included provision of non-clinical services suchashealthcare workforce training. The two terms became increasingly less distinguishable during the last decade until telehealth and telemedicine were often used interchangeably.
In the latter half of the decade new virtual services were being included in the nomenclature of telehealth/telemedicine. These services included remote patient monitoring, store and forward videoconferencing, audio-only conferencing, and mobile health (mhealth).
With the advent of the COVID19 pandemic the traditional definitions were relaxed. The new virtual technologies were not only included as acceptable for the delivery of remote clinical care, but were being reimbursed at the same rate as two-way audio-video conferencing. Once the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, it is uncertain which of these relaxations will continue.
To provide better understanding of the technologies involved here are some helpful definitions:
Live (synchronous) videoconferencing
A two-way audiovisual link between a patient and a care provider
Store-and-forward (asynchronous) videoconferencing
Transmission of a recorded health history to a health practitioner, usually a specialist
Remote patient monitoring (RPM)
The use of connected electronic tools to record personal health and medical data in one location for review by a provider in another location, usually at a different time
Mobile health (mHealth)
the use of connected electronic tools to record personal health and medical data in one location for review by a provider in another location, usually at a different time
It is important to note that for purposes of billing for services provided via telehealth that the provider acknowledges the definition of telehealth as provided by the payer.