Telemedicine and lack of direct contact with the patient

Exploring the features of telemedicine

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Telemedicine technology is relatively new. However, it is widely used already throughout the world. According to a survey performed by Software advice, around 75% of the survey respondents were interested in trying out telemedicine. This includes both doctors and patients. Telemedicine is popular and famous for its innovative approaches and easy access. However, our main subject in this article is going to be the lack of direct contact between the patient and the doctor and how it affects the treatment.

To begin with, we should first briefly explain what telemedicine offers. Telemedicine enables the distribution of health-related services and information, using telecommunication technologies. It secures long-distance patient-doctor care, advice, contact, treatment, among other many interactions. As we can see already, telemedicine diverges from traditional health care delivery by using modern telecommunication systems. However, the main worry people have when looking at how telemedicine works is whether it is able to deliver and transmit the information completely and equally as it is transmitted in the traditional settings.

So, how exactly is telemedicine when it comes to patient-doctor communication? For starters, the whole point of telemedicine is easy and effective access to clinical care from the comfort of your own home. However, this also means no direct contact and in-person communication with the medical staff. A frequent concern that came about among doctors was the reduced ability to notice subtle symptoms and clues when observing the patient online. Another concern was the potential of losing valuable information due to a slow connection or a brief internet interruption. On the other hand, the immediate pros that were noticed by almost everyone were quite pleasant and very important. The most important ones were the following:

  1. No transportation is required. When you have the ability to see your doctor through a computer or a mobile device, for example, you can save money on multiple things such as gas, parking, etc.
  2. No chance of catching a new illness. With the ongoing global pandemic, telemedicine was immediately introduced as a quick fix to lower the number of patients. There are no crowded waiting rooms when you perform an online exam of a patient. The exposure risk is minimal and the patient stays safe.
  3. No need to take time off of work. A very important benefit that was immediately noticed was the fact that video conference with the doctor meant no need to take any time off of work.

These were only some of the many benefits doctors and patients alike saw in telemedicine as its popularity grew in 2020. Telemedicine providers worked hard on improving all essential products and services aimed at supporting the patient.

Increasing the effectiveness of online communication

So, we've mentioned already that the main concern regarding the implementation and use of telemedicine was the lack of direct contact. How is this exactly solved? The digital era of telemedicine is constantly evolving and improving. Video and audio features are being constantly moderated and worked on. Furthermore, the enormous advances made in computer technology created large data repositories, enhanced visualization, and the integration of various media which are all operating from a single platform. In addition to this, there is clear empirical data collected throughout 2020 on the efficiency of telemedicine in terms of combating the highly contagious global infection. In this regard, the lack of direct contact was greatly appreciated.

The ever-increasing effectiveness and innovation in telemedicine are quite noticeable. For example, while it was earlier used for information about health issues, and treatment modalities, it is now used as a platform that can provide professional services which include diagnosis, treatment, and drug prescriptions. Accessibility is also important for the development of telemedicine. This continues to be the crucial factor in its evolution.

The quality of doctor-patient interaction through telemedicine platforms

Going back to the main topic how is the quality of the current implementation of telemedicine when it comes to the patient-doctor conversation? The quality can be essentially broken down into two separate parts or aspects. These are technical and interpersonal.

We have already discussed some of the main improvements made by telemedicine providers when it comes to services and communication quality. But what about interpersonal quality? Much of the interpersonal quality of telemedicine services can be based on the satisfaction of both clients and health care providers. A recent Cisco global survey suggests that 74% of patients prefer easy access and instant communication with healthcare services rather than in-person interactions. Overall, the attitude is positive and the initial worry of the lack of direct contact between the doctor and the patient is decreasing.

The main goal of improving the effectiveness of patient-doctor communication via the means of telemedicine platforms is consistency and care continuity. Using on-demand telemedicine services, a doctor should be able to access the records from previous visits and a complete story of a particular patient. If the patient is simply referred to a random health care provider each time, the care continuity suffers. Telemedicine has now perfected the procedures where a complete physical exam is not required a simple conversation and listing of symptoms is enough. However, the area where it is constantly improving is the "personal touch" that certain procedures need to have.

In summary

To conclude what we have covered in this article so far, one of the main worries for both patients and doctors is the lack of direct contact during interactions through telemedicine platforms. However, more and more people are seeking the convenience and cost-effectiveness of telemedicine. This in turn proved essential to the constantly expanding and growing evolution of telemedicine services and means of communications. As of right now, it is mere speculation whether the technology and innovation provided by telemedicine are going to continue to rapidly evolve. However, the potential and the need are there. Telemedicine may not yet hold each aspect of the doctor-patient relationship perfectly, but it is constantly working on new improvements and ways of providing essential health services to those in need.

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