Connected Health, Digital Health, and more commonly Telehealth and Telemedicine are often used interchangeably. However, do we understand and know the subtle differences between these frequently used terms and their security considerations?
According to the Connected Health Initiative (CHI), connected health technologies are poised to harness the power of mobile connectivity to revolutionize the healthcare system. They are a set of new-age solutions to address the accessibility problems plaguing healthcare delivery across the world. With the emergence and increasing need for high-speed 5G communication networks, the usage of such connected health technologies and solutions is increasing greatly.
Connected health is about more than simply technologies; it’s about using the healthcare system to connect people and information. Connected health includes:
- Digital Health
- Telehealth and Telemedicine
- Remote Care
- Assisted Living
Digital health offers real opportunities to improve medical outcomes and enhance efficiency. As per the US FDA, digital health includes a broad scope of categories such as:
- Health Information Technology (IT)
- Telehealth and Telemedicine
- Mobile health (mHealth)
- Wearable Devices
- Personalized Medicine
Telehealth vs Telemedicine
People often consider Telehealth and Telemedicine as the same service, but there are differences between them.
Telehealth is a customer-facing approach and refers to a broad scope of remote healthcare services such as the wide range of diagnosis and management, education, and other related fields of healthcare.
There are four different Telehealth modalities:
- Live Videoconferencing (Synchronous): Live, two-way interaction between a person and a provider using audio-visual telecommunications technology.
- Store-and-Forward (Asynchronous): Transmission of recorded health history through an electronic communications system to a practitioner outside of a real-time or live interaction.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): Personal health and medical data collection from an individual in one location via electronic communication technologies, which is transmitted to a provider in a different location for use in care and related support.
- Mobile Health (mHealth): Health care and public health practice and education supported by mobile communication devices such as cell phones, tablet computers, and PDAs.
Telemedicine is a subset of Telehealth and is considered the clinical application of technology using the practice of medicine to provide care at a distance via technology.
As Telemedicine is a subset of Telehealth, it also uses the four Telehealth modalities noted above, but refers specifically to remote clinical services. Telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services.
Security and privacy
Connected health and digital health solutions also are accompanied by increasing risks to privacy, cybersecurity, and software threats. These applications rely on internet connectivity, making them vulnerable and appealing for malicious attacks. There is an ever-increasing need:
- To ensure the transmission of information over the internet is encrypted and the endpoints secured.
- To protect and secure a user’s privacy and prevent unauthorized data access.
Critical security measures need to be implemented for Telehealth and Telemedicine platforms and systems, including video conferencing, remote monitoring, and point-to-point solutions to be trusted and adopted.
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