What’s the difference between telemedicine and telehealth?

What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine is the practice of medicine using technology to deliver care at a distance. A physician in one location uses a telecommunications infrastructure to deliver care to a patient at a distant site.

What is telehealth?
Telehealth refers broadly to electronic and telecommunications technologies and services used to provide care and services at-a-distance.

What’s the difference?
Telehealth is different from telemedicine in that it refers to a broader scope of remote health care services than telemedicine. Telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, while telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services.

What is the AAFP’s position on telemedicine?
The American Academy of Family Physicians supports expanded use of telemedicine as an appropriate and efficient means of improving health, when conducted within the context of appropriate standards of care.

AAFP backgrounder on telemedicine:


Relevant AAFP Policies:
• Telehealth and Telemedicine: http://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/telemedicine.html
• Payment for Non Face-to-Face Physician Services: http://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/payment-services.html

AAFP News Coverage of Telemedicine and Telehealth:
• Coronavirus (COVID-19): new telehealth rules and procedure codes for testing 
• Bill to Expand Telehealth in TRICARE Preserves State Licensure
AAFP Calls for Caution in Teleheath Bill's Language
Low Use of Telehealth Tied to Flawed Payment Models
MedPAC Explores Expansion of Payment for Telemedicine
Gauging the Promise and Perils of Telemedicine
Barriers Impede Telemedicine's Potential: AAFP Leade Voices
Barriers Hindering Use of Telemedicine: In the Trenches

Research from the Robert Graham Center:
Video Visits with Doctor Add Convenience, Risk of Fragmentation(www.graham-center.org) 
Training, Adequate Payment Could Spur Greater Family Physician Use of Telehealth(www.graham-center.org)
Widespread Telemedicine Adoption Blocked by Training, Payment Barriers(www.graham-center.org)
Only 15% of FPs Report Using Telehealth; Training and Lack of Reimbursement Are Top Barriers(www.graham-center.org)
Family Physicians and Telehealth: Findings from a National Survey(www.graham-center.org)

 AAFP Advocacy on Telemedicine and Telehealth:
AAFP Letter to the FCC on Telehealth in Rural America - January 31, 2018(3 page PDF)
AAFP Letter to the VA on the Authority of Health Care Providers to Practice Telehealth Proposed Rule - October 31, 2017(3 page PDF)
AAFP Letter to Congress on the National Defense Authorization Act - September 1, 2016
AAFP Letter to Energy & Commerce Regarding Telemedicine Proposal - June 16, 2014
AAFP Letter to Rep. Thompson Regarding the Telehealth Draft - May 9, 2014