Telemedicine vs Virtual Care: What’s the Difference?

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Many of us have learned a lot about the use of technology in recent years. Especially, adding live video to what we only new as regular phone calls in the past. This is true for our healthcare providers as well. An in-person visit is becoming less common, with the rise of what are called virtual appointments. In this article, we look at the differences between telemedicine visits and virtual care, which includes virtual visits.

This remote model has become beneficial for delivering medical care. This survey shows the number of remote health care providers has increased by 41 percent between the years 2018 to 2020. This market had a significant jump during the pandemic.

This shows not only the demand for, but also the efficiency of the remote health care provider model. More and more patients have benefited from this mode. It is also effective for healthcare providers, their broader healthcare systems, and the overall healthcare industry. And thus, it becomes a win-win-win.

There are a variety of methods in which remote healthcare is delivered to the patients. Telemedicine and virtual health care may seem the same, but they have a lot of differences. Read on to know the difference between these two and which one might be good for you.

The Difference Between Telemedicine and Virtual Healthcare

Telemedicine / Telehealth Services

Imagine a patient is suffering from a fever. Normally, he or she would go to the doctor for a consultation. The doctor will check the condition and will prescribe some sort of medicine. After the consultation, the patient has to take the medicine on their own to cure the fever.

If the same thing happens over a call, it is called Telemedicine. The doctor will evaluate the patient’s health and prescribe some medicines over the call. In short, Telehealth services can be best defined as a virtual consultation with the doctor.

Virtual Healthcare

If the same person suffering from fever is in a serious condition, they might get admitted to the hospital for more care. Medications and health conditions will be monitored regularly, along with getting frequent follow-ups from the nurse.

This can happen virtually too.

When remote patient monitoring is used, it is known as Virtual Care or Virtual Healthcare. The healthcare professionals constantly monitor the patient remotely, with the ability to track blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs when proper equipment is provided.

This can be especially valuable for patients in remote areas or even rural areas without immediate access to a hospital or other medical facility. The care given here will be almost equal to that of being admitted to the hospital.

Simple Differences

A virtual consultation with the doctor is Telemedicine and virtual full-time monitoring by healthcare professionals is called Virtual Healthcare. The difference between Telemedicine and Virtual Healthcare is that simple. In each example of a delivery of healthcare services, there is likely a treatment plan, involvement by a trusted family member, a relationship with an insurance company, all being deployed for quality care.

Now that you are clear with the difference, you may wonder which one would be the right choice for you. As always, when considering your health and healthcare options, it is ALWAYS advisable to discuss your ideas fully with your doctor. Here’s a few things to consider when you have that conversation with them.

Pros and Cons

Individual Attention

In telemedicine, you can only expect the doctor’s prescriptions. Follow-ups are difficult in this case since there is not any “in-person care.” Future calls would have to be scheduled. It you are looking for the individual attention an in-person appointment affords, this is not the right choice for you.

However, in virtual care, you will be fully monitored by the healthcare professionals. They give you frequent follow-ups. Individual attention is certain in virtual healthcare, but it is delivered in a remote manner – all without a waiting room!

The Seriousness of Your Illness

Another major factor to consider before making your choice is the seriousness of your Illness. If the advanced services of a hospital are needed, you would of course need that resource for the best possible patient care.

A moderate level of need may allow you to use Telemedicine by conferring with your doctor via telehealth visits. A mobile device running mobile apps, instant messaging, or even video chat is all you need to have real-time interaction with your doctor or their nurse practitioner.

If your illness is even less serious, Virtual Healthcare is possible. You would still be monitored in real time, even for chronic conditions.


Sometimes, the information you give to the doctor over telehealth appointments could not be enough to judge your condition. In this case, you will have to be under the monitoring of the healthcare professionals. This is not a choice but the only option left as your illness needs monitoring to be judged.

Telemedicine can not help as it is a short-term process. So if you are having abnormal and unpredictable symptoms, be it is important to be treated accurately for the best possible health outcomes.

Fast Cure

As virtual healthcare can give you more attention and care, the cure becomes easier and possibly faster. Whereas in telemedicine, you will have to handle it all by yourself. You will not have any experts by your side to look after you. In this case, the cure might get delayed.


If you have any of your family members to take care of you, you might not need the full-time monitoring. Telemedicine services might be adequate for you.

telemedicine vs virtual care
Courtesy Unsplash

Final Thoughts

Telemedicine is short-term support whereas virtual health care is full-time support. Both Virtual Healthcare and Telemedicine have advantages and disadvantages. The goal is to explore these options with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment and monitoring for you.