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What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a method of providing medical care remotely, usually through video chat. It offers a range of benefits for both patients and healthcare providers. Through telemedicine, you can have access to these care options:
- Primary care consultations.
- Physical therapy.
- Emergency services.
Telemedicine usually offers healthcare using digital devices such as computers and smartphones. In most cases, telemedicine uses video conferencing but some providers use phone messaging and emails.
What are some of the uses of telemedicine by doctors and patients?
Doctors and patients can use telemedicine to:
- Assess whether or not the patient needs treatment in person.
- Provide certain kinds of medical care such as mental health treatment.
- Write or renew prescriptions.
- Offer certain types of therapy such as speech and physical therapy.
What are the various benefits of telemedicine for patients?
- Telemedicine can help treat a range of medical conditions.
- Lower costs since people who use telemedicine spend little time in hospitals thus saving costs.
- Improved access to care. Telemedicine makes it easier for people with disabilities to access care.
- Preventive care. Telemedicine makes it easier for people to access preventive care that improves their long-term health.
- Telemedicine allows people to access care in the comfort and privacy of their own homes.
- Slowing the spread of infection. Telemedicine eliminates the risk of picking up an infection at the doctor’s office since there may be sick people around and you might have a weak immune system.
What are the benefits of telemedicine for healthcare providers?
- Reduced overhead expenses. Providers who offer telemedicine services may incur fewer overhead costs.
- Additional revenue stream. Clinicians may find that telemedicine supplements their income because it allows them to provide care to more patients.
- Less exposure to illness and infections. When providers see patients remotely, they do no have to worry about exposure to any pathogens the patient may carry.
- Patient satisfaction. When a patient does not have to travel to the office or wait for care, they may be happier with their provider.
What are the disadvantages of telemedicine for patients?
Telemedicine does not suit every person or situation. Here are some potential disadvantages when using telemedicine over traditional care methods.
- Insurance coverage. Not all insurers cover telemedicine.
- Protecting medical data. Hackers and other criminals may be able to access a patient’s medical data, especially if the patient accesses telemedicine on a public network or via an unencrypted network.
- Care delays. When someone needs emergency care, accessing telemedicine first may delay treatment.
What are the disadvantages for healthcare providers?
Licensing issues. State laws vary and clinicians may not be able to practice medicine across state lines depending on the state in which they hold their license and the state in which the patient lives.
Technological concerns. Finding the right digital platform to use can be challenging. Also, weak connections make it difficult to provide quality care and privacy issues.
Inability to examine patients. Provides must rely on patient self-reports during telemedicine sessions.
Situations in which telemedicine is useful.
Telemedicine works well for any condition that does not require laboratory tests or a physical examination. Telemedicine can even offer some forms of ongoing care such as psychotherapy.
When there are barriers to treatment like the COVID-19 pandemic, the doctor can use telemedicine to prescribe antibiotics.