Telemedicine or In-Person Visit? Pros and Cons
In the context of CoVid 19, the entire landscape of the healthcare industry has changed – from operations to organization; nothing has remained the same. The biggest change came about as the result of social distancing. Doctors chose to limit in-person visits, and patients avoided them because of fear of infection.
Many doctors, thus, turned to the internet and modern technology to organize remote medical and health visits. According to McKinsey and Co, there was a 50-175 fold increase in online appointments. This number is expected to rise because the pandemic seems to be here to stay. However, it has also been predicted that telemedicine will continue to thrive once the pandemic comes to an end.
There are two questions that arise in the wake of such changes: why is telemedicine important, and is telemedicine better than in person? Let’s take a look at these, one by one:
Why Telemedicine Is Important
Telehealth medicine has several advantages for the healthcare industry which highlight its importance to the niche:
Protecting Medical Personnel and Patients:
The heavy pressure on the healthcare system and the increased risk of infection have rendered telehealth a necessary and safe tool in today’s world. Primary care and specialist clinicians have turned to telemedicine for basic visits, using videoconferencing as the primary tool.
Increased access for radiologists:
Radiologists have now begun to use digital technologies on a larger scale. The arrangement works perfectly for the remote setting and also addresses the divide between urban and rural patients. Teleradiology has been growing on a massive scale and maybe a thing of the future.
Healthcare access in senior living:
Telemedicine is important because it has increased access to healthcare in senior communities and retirement homes. Implementing telehealth increases convenience improves disease and care management, and reduces the hospitalization rate for at-risk elderly patients.
Conserving Bed Space and Supplies:
Telemedicine has also cut down on the demand for supplies and hospital beds by limiting low-risk patients at hospitals. This unburdens medical systems and aids care delivery. Exposure can also be limited, and protective gear can be saved for later use.
Telehealth has expanded to include cardiovascular care. This is also known as telecardiology and includes virtual visits, app-based rehab programs, and nurse-aided consultations. Moreover, online counseling has also been on the rise.
As demonstrated, there are several benefits of telemedicine platforms for patients and doctors alike, which highlights its importance.
Is Telemedicine Better Than In Person?
A paper published in JMIR Publications found that patient satisfaction with telehealth is high. People can get their appointments quickly as there is relatively less waiting time. In addition, it takes place within the safety of one’s home, saving up on time, money, and gas.
It is also highly beneficial for people with chronic diseases and the elderly, as it does not involve hauling yourself to a medical facility, saving the toll that may have on your body. Furthermore, it costs more or less the same as an in-person visit, with an expanded list of services.
Doctors can also dedicate an ample amount of time for a visit, as they are not limited by time constraints in this situation. Video conferencing can feel much like an in-person visit because it is just like being in the room with a doctor.
However, it must be noted that telemedicine is not perfect for every situation. If your condition is serious, you must pay a visit to a doctor. You also need to visit the doctor if they need to conduct a physical exam.
The advantages of telemedicine in healthcare are as follows:
Convenience and accessibility:
Convenience is highly important in today’s world. Many people would prefer having easy access to healthcare than going to the doctor. Virtual care does not waste time and costs as much money. This is especially beneficial for those who live in remote areas, are homebound, or cannot leave work.
Cost-effective and Savings in Healthcare:
Online analysis, consultation, monitoring services, and electronic databases can reduce the costs of healthcare by large margins. This practice serves everyone, from the patient to the insurance company. Unnecessary non-urgent ER visits can be reduced, while on-call hours can be turned into billable time. No-shows can be reduced, and overhead for physicians can also be reduced.
Patient involvement increases leading to lower costs and improved health.
However, while Telemedicine is very advantageous, it also has a glaring and expensive drawback:
Technical training and staff:
The initial cost of implementing the program can be high. IT staff has to be restructured, and new equipment must be purchased, alongside training programs for all employees. However, in the long run, this may not prove to be a problem because people adapt quickly, and the returns are high.
The benefits of telemedicine for patients and doctors outweigh the cons.
Dr. Josh is a physician who's helping spread the knowledge about Telehealth and its advantages. At SmartClinix, he's providing his expertise and knowledge in the form of engaging articles on various health & tech related topics.