The use of telemedicine and telehealth services has increased greatly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as patients look to get the treatment they need without risking their health. This has lead to a national discussion on the use of digital doctor’s visits and what this means for patient care.
Consider a few of the pros and cons of us telemedicine to understand better how this service works.
Pro: Patients can meet with the top specialists in the nation.
Telemedicine visits are wonderful opportunities for home-bound patients and those in rural areas to receive the best care. Not everyone can travel several hours for a doctor’s visit or can live near a top-rated hospital. With telehealth, patients can continue to get treatment wherever they are located.
These virtual visits make a big difference for patients with unique needs who need to be seen by specialists. With the help of cancer care telemedicine, older adults can meet with oncologists without leaving home. Patients and their family members or caregivers can attend appointments with the best doctors across the country. Opportunities for treatment expand with telehealth.
Con: Some patients need specialized tests.
Not every telemedicine call is as simple as a doctor’s consultation. Some patients need to get specific tests related to the doctor’s specialty to receive a diagnosis. For example, a patient who visits an audiologist at their local hearing center will need a physical exam and other tests to understand their hearing needs better. With these tests, audiologists recommend a treatment plan and recommend the best hearing aid for their condition.
Fortunately, some telehealth companies are working to address this. Patients can visit a local clinician for the required tests and then send the results to the doctor. The patient could complete a test in Boise and have a virtual visit with a doctor in Tulsa that afternoon.
Pro: More healthcare providers are embracing remote care.
The public health emergency caused by COVID-19 has pushed healthcare providers to accept telemedicine appointments as the future. Medicare and Medicaid services each allow patients to receive telehealth visits when they offer the best approach to getting the care they need. Patients need to attend a video consultation or Zoom call on their computer or TV screen to meet with a doctor without traveling further to find a doctor within their market.
Telemedicine services are expected to grow in the foreseeable future, so you can expect this personal care practice to become more common for healthcare providers and doctors.
Con: Doctors might not pick up on symptoms.
Medical professionals with years of experience can quickly pick up on symptoms and make diagnoses. However, catching health problems might be harder over a phone call than an in-person visit. While telemedicine has come a long way with call quality and clearer screens, there are times when a doctor should see a patient or touch them to feel for inflammation or skin conditions.
There are instances when a doctor might ask a virtual patient to visit an in-person clinic or offer a referral for a specialist. Oftentimes, this second opinion’s goal is to ensure the patient is diagnosed correctly so they can receive the right medications and treatments for their needs. Technology has come a long way, but it can’t solve everything yet.
Telemedicine appointments aren’t going to replace traditional services completely. While the Coronavirus has made Zoom calls more popular, many people are still eager to meet with a doctor in-person. Instead, patients will have more choices for how they want to see medical professionals, improving the quality of care as they find out what is best for their needs.