The average wait time to see a new doctor in person is about 24 days, but the average wait time to see someone virtually is just 20 minutes.

Some surveys even show that virtual healthcare resolves 85 percent of patient questions whereas in-person meetings only solve about 64 percent of patient questions.

If you’re interested in virtual care you may have heard a lot of different names such as telemedicine, telehealth, and e visits. We’ll discuss the subtle differences in each one and help you choose the appointment type most suitable for your situation.

What is the difference between an eVisit and telehealth?

If you’re confused about the differences between e visits and telehealth services, you’re not alone. They both have significant overlap, but there are a few subtle differences.

EVisits are usually just a phone or chat conversation. Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and might prescribe medication.

Telehealth, however, covers a wide scope of technology. According to the Health Resources Administration, telehealth refers to “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”

Put simply, passing any medical information electronically or any virtual medical communication can be considered telehealth. Therefore, it has many subcategories though it’s the most famous one is telemedicine. 

In fact, telehealth and telemedicine are often used interchangeably, even by medical professionals. 

However, telemedicine refers specifically to the patient to physician interactions. A typical telemedicine meeting uses video conferencing software to talk live, face to face, with a patient about their ailments. 

E visits, on the other hand, are usually just a phone or chat conversation.

What technology is needed for telehealth?

A lot of patients worry that the technology required for telehealth will be complex.

Fortunately, telehealth technology providers have realized that not all users are technically savvy and have successfully made solutions that are user-friendly.

The most common telehealth technologies are the live video-conferencing software and Zoom. Both are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which means that they have an extra layer of security.

Never use a software that is not HIPAA compliant or is not approved by your organization as it may not be secure. Roughly 75,000 people were victims of healthcare breaches in 2019 and that number is on the rise. So take precautions when downloading software.

What is included in telehealth?

The main category of telehealth is telemedicine and there are four different categories of telemedicine that you may use with your physician.

Video Conferencing: This is the most common type of telemedicine and it is used by a wide variety of medical professionals from mental therapists to physical therapists. The patient and physician can talk to each other live in real-time and the physician can make recommendations and prescriptions.

Remote Patient Monitoring: The second type of telemedicine is RPM which allows healthcare professionals to monitor key signs such as heart rate and blood pressure through secure medical devices.

Store and Forward: Also known as Asynchronous, this is usually used in rural areas where patients don’t have access to specialists. The patient (or physician) can send medical records, images, and reports to a specialist.

Mobile Health (mHealth): Mobile health usually refers to using interactive apps for treatment and diagnostics. For example, some hearing aids come with apps that allow the physician to adjust the settings in real-time while talking to a patient remotely.

Do telehealth and telemedicine mean the same thing?

Ultimately no. Telehealth and telemedicine are not the same, even though you may hear people use them interchangeably. Telehealth is the broader category of all medical electronic communications including medical training, administrative meetings, and patient/physician meetings. Telemedicine, however, refers only to live patient to physician meetings which are typically conducted over video calls.