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Telemedicine or telecare?

 May 14, 2014
By Suzanne Hasler

Recently, we dedicated a space on this blog to trying to understand the differences between telecare and advanced telecare, two buzzwords which are occasionally confused. Something similar happens with today’s topic of discussion: the difference between telemedicine and telecare. 

The development of the Internet has led to a breakthrough in the use of these techniques, which have been boosted further by the mobile revolution. Consequently, actions which previously required the intensive use of resources and time, can now be carried out more simply; saving resources, improving work efficiency and, most importantly, increasing the quality of service provision and avoiding unnecessary hospital visits.

The common use of the terms telehealth and telecare interchangeably in English, causes constant misunderstandings in other languages, which we will try to minimize:

  • Telemedicine is simply the provision of medical services remotely, thanks to the use of technology. This definition covers a number of activities, ranging from telephonic consultations with medical professionals, to the most complex surgical operations with remote-controlled robots.
  • Telecare, on the other hand, shares the attribute of using technology to provide treatment remotely, but has a somewhat broader approach. Telecare refers to activities related to the field of geriatrics, and not just medicine, with a marked preventative and follow-up element.

Thus, both terms are closely related, since they both depend heavily on the use of information and communication technologies. Moreover, beyond mere terminology, telemedicine and telecare should work together, complementing each other to maximize the efficiency of both systems.

Fundamentally, the ultimate objective of people’s wellbeing is shared, with both systems working together to promote personal independence among the elderly, improved quality of life for chronic patients and a more efficient healthcare system.