In the Digital Healthcare world today, there is a lot of confusion that arises from all the different labels given to the types of technology-enabled healthcare.
One main area of confusion is between Telehealth and mHealth.
To make a clear distinction, the American Telemedicine Association is a great place to reference:
“Formally defined, Telehealth (also commonly known as Telemedicine) is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status. Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, e-mail, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.”
“Products and services related to telemedicine are often part of a larger investment by healthcare institutions in either information technology or the delivery of clinical care. Even in the reimbursement fee structure, there is usually no distinction made between services provided on site and those provided through telemedicine and often no separate coding required for billing of remote services.”
Telehealth encompasses patient consultations via video conferencing, transmission of still images, e-health including patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education, consumer-focused wireless applications and nursing call centers.
When it comes to defining mHealth, the definition is not quite as simple.
mHealth is an abbreviation for the term mobile health, and refers to the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices. The term is most commonly used in reference to using mobile communication devices, such as mobile phones, tablet computers and wearable devices.
As of July 2016, there are currently over 13,000 healthcare-related apps in the Apple iTunes store and many more on application platforms such as Amazon and Google Play.
The most common mHealth apps are fitness trackers. Other mHealth devices can include heart rate monitors, medication trackers, asthma and diabetes monitoring.
Currently, there is no clear association or authority overseeing the industry.
While there are some links between Telehealth and mHealth, many doctors still feel the data derived from fitness trackers and most mHealth technology is not accurate enough to be used in diagnosis or patient monitoring.
As technology connectivity and interoperability becomes more common, there is likely to be more of a link between the Telehealth and mHealth.