How easy is it to talk to a doctor about your illness when you have a phone call or video conference at your desk instead of visiting the clinic?
Telemedicine has made on-demand care possible and accessible, especially in rural areas where medical facilities or experts are far away. This form of diagnosis and treatment, which focuses on remote monitoring of patients, has been around for decades, but its presence has been enhanced by easy access to telephones, tablets, and desktops.
For their part, healthcare providers who offer remote consultations must also be adequately equipped. One example of a video conferencing platform is the Cisco TelePresence SX80 codec, which delivers audio and video quality with a Precision 60 camera. This technology and compliant software form a typical telemedicine setup.
With this setup, telemedicine is well-positioned to provide superior patient care and training for healthcare professionals. But there’s always a good and bad side to every matter for recipients of such services, like you.
The Advantages of Telemedicine
On-demand consultations mean access to basic health services anytime, anywhere. People who are at home or have little time to visit a clinic can make an appointment and then have a virtual meeting with their physician.
Before video calls became popular, some hospitals or clinics routinely screened their outpatients and provided information over the phone. This was one of the first applications of telemedicine, with specific devices set up at the patient‘s home to collect and transmit data.
Video consultations are ideal for the diagnosis and treatment of common conditions such as colds, joint pain, and allergies. They also provide quick answers to immediate questions about medications and other medical concerns and are also used for follow-ups.
2. Saves Time and Energy
The traditional way of meeting a doctor for about 15 minutes takes a lot of time to prepare: leaving the house, driving or commuting, and waiting for your turn. Telemedicine reduces the time and effort required to move; the appointment can fit right into your day.
You can now skip the waiting room, which can be a hotbed of diseases, and speed up access to medical care. Some healthcare facilities offer solutions for emergency telemedical care.
A remote consultation is cheaper than a visit to the office; it is a win-win situation for patients and providers. Private healthcare institutions can be encouraged to provide telemedicine with nationwide parity laws that force commercial insurers and Medicaid (as in the case of New York) to reimburse telemedicine services as if they were provided in person.
The American Telemedicine Association monitors the adoption of parity laws or guidelines for telemedicine in the states. You can find more updates on this page. You should also check with your insurer to see if they will cover the cost of telemedicine.
Telemedical professionals are required to comply with HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to ensure the protection of patient data. Providers must follow the guidelines of the Act covering authorized access to medical records and general protected health information (PHI).
Although communication with your physician has never been easier, the law protects the way your information is transmitted to you and to others.
The Disadvantages of Telemedicine
1. Not All Diseases Are Covered
A limitation of telemedicine is not intended to diagnose all illnesses; the doctor must sometimes see the patient at close range in order to make an assessment. A remote session is not a substitute for a full physical examination, which insurance carriers or HMOs may require periodically.
2. Susceptible to Outside Factors
Since communication is electronic, certain factors are likely to affect, disrupt, or, worse still, terminate the call. Some examples are a poor Internet connection, power failure, and weather disturbances.
3. Not All Doctors Offer Telemedicine Options
You may be surprised to learn that your doctor does not offer a remote consultation. One of the main reasons for this is the cost of equipment at the facility. Smaller clinics and hospitals may not be able to afford to set up and maintain the telemedical system. However, it is plausible that other healthcare providers will join the bandwagon as the US telemedicine market is expected to grow, driven by the demand for virtual healthcare.
4. Lack of Human Touch
It is a common criticism of every technological advance, including telemedicine. This lack of human connection can be a problem for some patients who are used to interacting personally with their doctors. It can be more reassuring to have your doctor confirm that you are personally well, rather than on a video screen where nuances can be lost.
A Work in Progress
Telemedicine is evolving and could see improvements at this moment. For the time being, it fills the gap for accessible and affordable health care.