Benefits and Limitations of Telemedicine for Patients
Date : Jul 28, 2020
Author : DR Armed Zayed
Healthcare is changing parallel to the evolution of technology and science. The focus is on providing care to more patients than before, even in areas that are hard to reach. That’s where telemedicine steps in. Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, has been around for years but we are yet to witness dramatic expansion.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed how significant telemedicine can be. The benefits of telemedicine are numerous, but there are some limitations of telemedicine. In this post, we’re going to discuss both advantages and shortcomings of telemedicine for patients.
Benefits of Telemedicine
We live in an era of technology where connectivity is everything. Various apps and platforms allow users to communicate, connect, and stay in touch. We also have the opportunity to buy everything with a few clicks. Nowadays we can do a great deal of our work online. So it doesn’t seem so unusual that healthcare is going this way as well. To some extent, at least! Below, you can take a look at some of the most important benefits of telemedicine for patients.
1. No Transportation
Telemedicine allows patients to see their doctors via computers and mobile devices. Patients don’t have to drive, look for parking, spend money on gas, or use public transportation. While it’s easy to say transportation isn’t a big deal, we need to keep in mind many patients live in areas that are hard to reach. This is, particularly in developing countries. But, in big cities, it can also be tricky to handle transportation. Telehealth takes this factor out of the equation, you can speak with your doctor whether you’re at home, work, or somewhere else.
2. No Need To Take Time Off
Most people need to take time off when they have an appointment. Some people need a day off, others a few hours. This isn’t overly convenient and telemedicine aims to change it. Telemedicine allows patients to schedule an appointment when it suits them the best. During a break, before or after work, various options are available. Thanks to telemedicine patients can comply with the doctor’s follow-up instructions and maintain their health without taking time off work.
Hospital costs are expensive and many patients struggle with payments. People who use telemedicine tend to spend less time in the hospital. In turn, the cost of their treatment decreases. Secondary expenses are also reduced with telemedicine. These expenses include the above-mentioned transportation and other expenses you may need to make to get to your appointment.
Maintaining Family Responsibilities
Patients face various challenges in their day-to-day life. These challenges are often difficult to overcome which can affect their doctor’s appointments. For instance, many patients have the responsibility of caring for their children or older family members. The alternative care, even for a few hours, can be costly. Taking them with you can be impractical or stressful. Telemedicine allows patients to maintain their family responsibilities and still see their doctor regularly.
Improved Access to Care for People with Disabilities
Telemedicine allows patients with disabilities to get improved access to care. They do not face challenges regarding communication, transportation, navigating around hospitals, and clinics. Telehealth services simplify the process of receiving proper care for vulnerable populations including the elderly.
Reduced Risk of Infections
Numbers show that healthcare-acquired infections account for 1.7 million infections in the U.S. and 99,000 associated deaths each year. Going to a hospital or a local healthcare centre to see the doctor means you are surrounded by people who are sick, which is particularly risk now that we’re dealing with COVID-19 pandemic. The risk of infections increases this way. The infections are especially dangerous for people with chronic conditions and impaired immune system. The opportunity to communicate with your doctor via mobile device or computer minimizes exposure to sources of infections.
Besides the above-mentioned advantages of telemedicine, other benefits include:
- Easy access to specialists
- No spending time in the waiting room
- Improved management of medication, lifestyle, and chronic conditions
- Easier access to preventive care to improve long-term health
- Convenient access to quality care for people with financial and geographic barriers
Limitations of Telemedicine
Even though telemedicine has many advantages, there are some limitations as well. Let’s break them down below.
1. Lack of Equipment
Telemedicine seems simple and easy for us. Patients just have to log in and contact their doctors. However, it’s more complex than that. Telemedicine requires a great deal of equipment and restructuring IT staff. All this takes time and requires a lot of money. Many healthcare institutions across the globe don’t have enough financial power to get on board. This leaves many patients deprived of telemedicine. Also, when not implemented properly, it could affect patients’ experiences.
2. No In-Person Consultations
Technology and telemedicine do simplify the way we communicate with others, including doctors but they also take in-person contact out of the equation. If you’re a patient who prefers in-person conversation with the doctor then telemedicine may not be your cup of tea. Many conditions require a physical exam to ensure treatment is on the right track and that’s not possible with telemedicine.
3. Decreased Care Continuity
Telemedicine allows patients to use on-demand service that connects them with random healthcare providers. In these instances, the care continuity suffers. That happens because that local healthcare provider doesn’t have medical records and other important information about that patient. Diagnosis, disease management, and everything else in healthcare strongly depends on a person’s medical records from previous visits. This problem is easy to resolve with improved data solutions in healthcare.
Telemedicine allows patients to get immediate access to doctors without travelling, driving, and taking time off work or family responsibilities. Alongside numerous advantages, telehealth medicine has some limitations as well. These limitations are manageable and we can expect to see them resolved as this type of healthcare service gains bigger momentum. In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine proves to be the only option for many patients to get in touch with their healthcare providers.
How to Make Most Out of Your Telemedicine Appointment
Date : Jul 17, 2020
Author : DR Armed Zayed
With the ongoing pandemic, a telemedicine appointment (or online doctor’s appointment) has become the go-to choice. Countless medical specialists are now tailoring their services towards these kinds of virtual visits to provide optimal patient care.
But, because of its relatively new nature, not many patients know how to use telehealth to its full potential. That’s why we decided to make the ultimate guide on tactics that can help every patient navigate their way through a virtual appointment.
What Is Telemedicine?
Before you can book an appointment, you need to know precisely what you are investing in. Telemedicine companies rely on technology to connect doctors with patients. Many specialists, physicians, nurses, therapists, and health providers use telehealth to help their clients.
It is a much cheaper alternative than having to travel to a healthcare centre. Plus, it doesn’t expose people to COVID-19, and it can be booked from the comfort of your home, explains the University of Kentucky.
How Do I Do a Virtual Visit With My Doctor?
Most virtual appointments are accessible via a link. A doctor can send you an e-mail or text message with a link attached to it. You would need to press that link to get access to the video conference directly. In other cases, you will need to log in or create an account to start the appointment.
4 Tips to Take Full Advantage of Your Telemedicine Appointment
Booking your first telemedicine appointment might seem too overwhelming. Patients have no idea what to expect with an online consultation. Many tend to forget what they are going to say, which makes the whole virtual appointment less efficient. But, there are a few methods that can help you make the most of it. Here is how.
1. Prepare Beforehand for Telemedicine Appointment
Telehealth services usually end quicker than a regular consultation service. You might be tempted to communicate about personal issues. But, with the ongoing crisis, time is critical. That’s why it’s best to make preparations beforehand.
How Can I Prepare for Telemedicine Appointment?
The first thing you have to do is write down your goals. Prepare all the things you want to ask your doctor. To do that, take a piece of paper and list the following factors:
- The symptoms you are experiencing.
- Your needs for seeing the doctor.
- Discuss your prescriptions or test results.
- Any questions you might have.
Once you sort things out, you can use this list to organize the appointment precisely the way you want to. Start reading the questions you wrote down one by one, and you will cover every detail you need. This makes the whole interaction a lot more productive and efficient. With proper communication and a sufficient strategy, it is easy to work out the details.
2. Make Sure the Medical Devices You Are Using are Nearby
If you have any underlying condition and you need to monitor your health regularly, it will be a good idea to have that device at hand.
- Blood pressure monitor
- Blood sugar measuring tools
- Heart monitor
All of these devices can come in handy when planning the appointment. Your doctor might request you do a reading while on call to make sure you are all right. If the medical device is not next to you, you will waste valuable time searching through the house when you can dedicate it to your appointment.
3. Stay Away From Any Distractions
Every patient needs a quiet room where they can do their virtual visit. This is essential since no noise will interrupt the session. Plus, you will hear clearly during the appointment, which is critical if you don’t want to misinterpret your doctor’s advice. So, try to keep the noise to a minimum and pick a private setting during the video conference.
Tip: Try wearing headphones or earbuds when on call. It will be much easier to hear and control the racket in the background. That way, no disturbances will get in the way of your virtual appointment.
4. Consult With Your Insurance Company
When planning a virtual visit, patients need to think about two things: copays and coverage. Some telehealth services are not covered by insurance companies. If you don’t check beforehand, a lot of unexpected bills will start piling up.
Because of the coronavirus, most states are requiring insurance companies to cover telehealth visits completely. Since these services have become a necessity to curb the pandemic, your insurance might cover it as well.
But, check the limit of your coverage to make sure you don’t need to pay extra. This is important for those who want to manage their budget efficiently and still get the treatment they need.
When to Visit a Local Healthcare Center?
While a virtual visit might seem like the most convenient approach, at times, you will need to book an in-person appointment. Don’t be surprised if your doctor has recommended you go to a local healthcare centre after the virtual visit.
That would mean you need a follow-up appointment, and your condition needs to be taken care of properly. The doctor will do a physical examination and determine whether or not you need a change of medications.
Virtual visits are very convenient, particularly with the ongoing pandemic. It’s a good approach that can solve numerous health issues. But, for people who’ve never tried it before, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
With the tips listed here, you can learn how to make the most of the virtual appointment even as a beginner. The examination is super easy to manage and quick to get used to. This handy strategy can help turn your brief selection into a worthwhile procedure. Was this guide helpful? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.