Posted By Arnav Mathur On October 21, 2021

Telehealth or Virtual Meetings? How to tell the difference

telehealth or virtual meetings

When your healthcare agency is shopping for an Electronic Health Record (EHR) solution, consider its capability to provide your patients with telehealth or virtual meetings. While they both have a similar end goal, which is ensuring the patient is provided remote care and treatment, their core processes are different. After understanding these differences, you can be sure to make an informed decision on what will be best for your healthcare practice.

Virtual meetings are a component of telehealth, but it is relatively simple and straightforward. Virtual meetings are just using a technology solution to provide basic visits between healthcare providers and their patients using some sort of electronic communication (video chat, audio chat, etc). It refers to the multiple ways healthcare experts can communicate with their patients without having to be face to face. This option allows patients to quickly make appointments, check in with their provider online, and keep a record of their data electronically. 

Telehealth is a much more sophisticated solution that allows virtual communication between patients and providers. It is defined as the integration of ICT’s (Information and Communications Technology) into the protection and promotion of healthcare. Telehealth serves as a platform to provide more efficient, affordable, and more patient-focused healthcare to patients who are facing obstacles when receiving treatment, whether it’s physical or financial, in a way that is much more secure. The difference between telehealth or virtual meetings primarily comes down to information security and things such as using a HIPAA compliant virtual meeting tool to have more secure, private patient communications.

Overall, both of these processes are meant to save patients time and hassle, provide safe alternatives to meeting in person, or to increase access to care. Telehealth or virtual meetings allow patients who live far away from clinics or doctors offices easy access to care and treatment. They also increase access for patients with transportation challenges. Telehealth and virtual meetings have been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide safe ways to meet during a global virus outbreak. 

When considering whether to use a telehealth or virtual meetings solution, consider the safety of your patient data and recommended guidelines for virtual patients both for virtual group therapy or individual patient appointments. Right now due to COVID-19, the laws around HIPAA compliance and virtual meetings are more relaxed; however, that may change in the future. Getting an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system that has an embedded telehealth solution will set your healthcare clinic up for success if regulations change in the future to require more HIPAA secure solutions. An embedded telehealth solution within your EHR also reduces the administrative burden on your staff by having your patient records from your telehealth solution already paired with your EHR so that you do not have double entry of patient data. When investing in technology solutions for your healthcare agencies and clinics, it is best to think long term. 

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About Arnav Mathur

Arnav Mathur is a Marketing Associate at Patagonia Health. He conducts market research regarding electronic health records and reaches out to clinics across the United States to see what Patagonia Health can provide for them. He also writes content for public and behavioral health while combining his business skill sets and customer focus to help push healthcare IT forward.