The pros and cons of Telemedicine

Advantages and disadvantages of telemedicine

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Photo by: Dylan Ferreira

Telemedicine today is changing faster than ever before. While it was originally designed to treat patients who were located in remote places far from local health care facilities, nowadays, it has greatly expanded this role. Telemedicine is increasingly becoming a powerful and very useful tool for convenient medical care. However, because some parts of telemedicine are still developing and evolving, it has its pros and cons. We are going to examine, in this article, the main pros and cons of telemedicine today. Let us take a closer look.

The pros of Telemedicine

Convenient patient care with more access

Easy access to healthcare services has always been one of the main goals and ambitions of telemedicine. It has achieved that. In a recent global survey by Cisco, around 74 % of patients prefer easy access to healthcare services over in-person interactions. Considering the difficulties that the global health care system has been facing in today's world, convenience is key and one of the biggest pros of telemedicine.

Better patient care quality

Telemedicine today offers improved timeliness of care. Patients all over the world, regardless of the location, can with a telemedicine provider communicate quickly and efficiently. Patients, therefore, can have real-time urgent care consultations. Furthermore, they can learn more about treatment options in a matter of minutes from the comfort of their homes. A recent study shows that the patients that use telemedicine score lower for depression, anxiety, and stress. Additionally, they have 38% fewer hospital admissions.

Increased patient engagement

Another big pro of telemedicine is the ability it provides for patients to connect more frequently and easily with their doctors. By connecting more frequently with doctors, more questions are answered and a strong doctor-patient relationship can be formed. Increasing patient engagement is something that is constantly evolving and developing in telemedicine. More and more ways are being created to make the communication and engagement between the patient and the doctor as smooth and efficient as possible.

It is cost-effective

Healthcare service costs can be quite high. However, with remote analysis and monitoring services as well as electronic data storage, healthcare service costs are significantly reduced. Furthermore, non-urgent ER visits are eliminated with telemedicine and therefore transportation expenses for these check-ups are also cut down.

Extended access to Specialists

Patients who are located in rural or remote areas usually do not have easy access to particular specialists or physicians in the health care system provided in their area. However, with telemedicine, these patients can benefit from quicker and more efficient specialist access. No long commutes and lengthy appointments are needed. Regardless of the location, physicians can refer their patients to specialists easily and in no time through telemedicine services.

Decreased waiting times

The efficiency of telemedicine appointments is quite visible in today's world. Considering the difficulties healthcare faced in 2020 and 2021, telemedicine has been on the frontlines as a perfect solution to the overflow of patients. Decreased waiting time and relatively instant access to health care services are some of the biggest advantages of telemedicine.

The cons of telemedicine

Equipment and technical training

Purchasing equipment necessary for quality telemedicine services can take a lot of time and is also expensive. Furthermore, training the staff and building an effective telemedicine program can also take a lot of time and combined effort. When transitioning completely to telemedicine services, practice managers, physicians, as well as other medical staff need to be trained for the newly introduced system.

In-person interactions with the doctors are reduced

Physical exams are usually necessary to make a complete diagnosis. While the world of telemedicine is constantly evolving, some of the main critics have been directed at the lack of direct patient-doctor interaction. Some physicians are worried that certain clues and symptoms in patients can be observed and diagnosed only in person.

Potential technical difficulties and glitches

As is the case in real life where documents can get misplaced and lost, in the online world of telemedicine, certain glitches or poor internet connection for example can lead to some problems with patient-doctor communication. If the connection is slow, there is a potential for a certain, crucial information to be lost. That is why sometimes both telemedicine providers and patients need to have access to proper equipment and quality connection.

Certain models reduce care continuity

Telemedicine providers and companies offer on-demand care for all patients. A patient who needs access to health care services can log in online and simply request a visit. However, if the model is not set up right, this patient can be referred to another doctor who perhaps does not know the patient even though the doctor has that patient's whole medical history. A breakdown in care continuity is one of the biggest downsides of telemedicine if the model of the services it provides is not set up properly.

Conclusion

In summary, as we can see, telemedicine has both pros and cons. All things considered, it is unknown right now whether the world of telemedicine will continue to develop as rapidly as it is doing right now. However, the potential for further growth and global expansion is there. As we can see, although it was initially used around the globe as a means of lowering in-person interactions during the pandemic, telemedicine is capable of providing patients with a full list of healthcare services from the comfort of their homes. The advantages of telemedicine overall, prevail over some of its current cons but it should be noted that the entire world of telemedicine is still developing. Telemedicine providers are working hard to fix and improve on these cons while retaining the current pros.

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