Like it or not, telemedicine is quickly becoming a mainstay in the medical world – but we’ve only just had a taste of the potential. As new technology evolves and systems are put in place to handle remote healthcare, the expectations are that telemedicine will become even more mainstream.
, “Telemedicine involves the use of electronic communications and software to provide clinical services to patients without an in-person visit. Telemedicine technology is frequently used for follow-up visits, management of chronic conditions, medication management, specialist consultation and a host of other clinical services that can be provided remotely via secure video and audio connections.”
As a side note, telemedicine differs somewhat from the term “telehealth,” which refers to a much broader scope of remote healthcare services including non-clinical ones like staff training and continuing education.
And while it’s common to hear doctors and administrators discuss the advantages of telemedicine, there isn’t always a ton of discussion on the patient-side benefits. So let’s take a look at the biggest pros:
“More products like smartphone apps, medical monitoring tech and health wearables are entering the consumer market and are offering ways for providers to monitor the health of patients,” . “Expect this to spur more electronic communications that encourage preventive care as well as timely medical intervention.”
The beauty of telemedicine is that doctors have a better view of patients around the clock – not just when they’re in the office. This allows for more timely care and prevents patients from only seeing a doctor when things get worse.
It’s hard to argue against the convenience factor. There’s something enticing about being able to see a doctor without having to take off work, drive to the practice, sit in a waiting room, see the doctor, and then commute back. Telemedicine cuts out all of these unnecessary elements and makes it easy to be seen – regardless of location.
The cost of going to the doctor can be expensive. Not only does an in-person visit typically cost more on the insurance side of things, but then you have to take some of the previously mentioned factors into account. Taking off work can mean forgoing income. Driving a long distance to see a doctor uses gas. Wireless communication makes this a thing of the past.
One of the more underrated benefits of telemedicine is superior accessibility. Most of us take access to doctors for granted. If you live in or near a big city, you probably have access to a few dozen top-rated doctors. Even if you live in a small town, there are typically a handful of choices. But for those living in rural areas, a good doctor is sometimes a two or three hour drive away. Telemedicine levels the playing field and gives patients access to quality healthcare, regardless of where they live.
The point of going to see the doctor is to get better. Unfortunately, most medical offices and waiting rooms are . So, instead of getting better, you may actually catch something else and get worse. With telemedicine, patients get to stay home and avoid exposing themselves to unnecessary risk. This is especially important for young babies and the elderly, who have weakened immune systems.
It’s imperative that we don’t rush into telemedicine. By taking things slowly and waiting for patient adoption to happen naturally, better results will ensue. And once telemedicine becomes a staple of the industry, the expectations are that care will become more convenient, less expensive, and more accessible. There’s a lot to look forward to!