Telemedicine has turned out to be a blessing for the healthcare industry around world. This emerging technology with its tremendous reach has brought a revolution in healthcare industry. Doctors and Specialists also use it as a means of exchanging patient information among themselves. In this article we will discuss some Pros and Cons of Telemedicine, with obviously pros over weighing its cons.
Realizing huge potential of Telemedicine, many healthcare companies are collaborating with Telemedicine solution providers to resolve issues towards providing quality care to patients. Many medical facilities worldwide are incorporating Telemedicine as a routine practice to elevate standards of patient care.
Patients in remote or individuals with busy work schedules are constantly leaning towards Telemedicine to seek optimized solutions for their problems. Smart devices and online management systems connect more patients with providers than ever before. There is no doubt that benefits associated with Telemedicine are manifold, but accompanied by challenges. Integration of any new technologies needs to be implemented only after a conscientious cost-benefit evaluation.
This post is an effort by Prologic Technologies to understand various Pros and Cons of Telemedicine to be taken into account before its adaptation.
Pros of Telemedicine
Incorporation of technology in medicine can enable its scope to reach wider audience with diverse needs. Convenient and prompt method ultimately results not only in a contended customer but also triggers the ROI for company significantly.
Ease of providing quality healthcare for all has been a challenging factor for the providers. Demanding concern centers on ensuring healthcare from anywhere and at any time.
Telemedicine can be a worthwhile option to address complaints about common ailments such as allergies, infections, sprains or cold. Patients can now seek physician’s opinion through techniques like emails, videoconferencing or chat bots. Physicians can now assess the patient’s symptoms aided by evaluation of reports and previous prescriptions.. Physicians from time to time can inquire about health and suggest him necessary changes in medication. In case of any emergency the patient can be directed to the nearest critical care center.
1. Offers Convenience to the Patients
Telemedicine results in significant reduction of patient monitoring time. Long queues cause moments of despair and agony especially for senile, disabled or individuals from distant places. Bringing the hospital at the patient’s doorstep through the virtual care method has eliminated the worry of long waiting times.
Telemedicine also serves to offer assistance in sports management. Injury incurred during a sports event might require immediate specialist consult. Providing support to the injured athlete via live video conferencing can help control the damage.
2. Cost Efficient for both Patients and Doctors
Integration of Telemedicine in the Healthcare industry has proved beneficial for both medical professionals and patients alike. Doctors can keep an easy track of their patient appointments and prescriptions through efficient Patient Management Systems.
Features can be incorporated to offer flexible payment plans or advance payment to physician eliminating the chances of loss of revenue in case of no show. This is one of the major Pros of Telemedicine.
3. Significant Increase in Survival Rates
Telemedicine can play a pivotal role in early detection of some major ailments. Physicians can monitor the changes in the body through the sharing of the patient’s reports. MRI’s, X rays and mammogram scan be viewed digitally now using online DICOM viewers and timely doctor’s opinion can be sought. Prompt attention by doctors through Telemedicine can lead to the early detection of the disease thus helping to increase the survival rates.
Telemedicine aims to fill the gaps due to the extreme shortage of physicians in the world. It can’t be argued that this virtual care technology has enhanced scope of healthcare to cater to needs of a range of patients with diverse needs.
4. Quality Patient Care
Telemedicine offers a real-time urgent care patient consultation. Telemedicine makes it convenient for patient to schedule a video call and at a flexible time. Doctors can now access patient’s medical history and conduct procedures through onsite Kiosks, Webcams, mobile telemedicine apps.
Patient can communicate with the doctor from proximity of his home. Whether it is primary care, urgent care, follow-up visits, management of medications or any chronic illness; Telemedicine provides an effective personalized healthcare for patients.
5. Significant Reduction of the Hospital Admission Rates
Access to the quality medical services and subsequent treatment through Telemedicine has led to lesser and lesser patients leaving the comforts of their home to visit the Hospitals. One of the major concerns that hospitals usually face is the shortage of beds to accommodate an increasing number of patients. Owing to the ease of convenience and instant access to the medical advice the patients are unlikely to have stress, anxiety, and depression.
Cons of Telemedicine
Advent and incorporation of Telemedicine by medical facilities has changed the scenario of medical industry significantly. While this domain promises to show extensive growth in coming years, it still poses technical and practical problems for healthcare providers. Having said so, the benefits of Telemedicine supersedes its disadvantages, if any.
1. Misleading Results due to Technology Limitations
Telemedicine has no doubt heightened reach of healthcare to patients. Distant diagnosis and most importantly providing immediate Medical care saves the patient; agonizing trips to the hospital. However, one of the cons of telemedicine is that it lacks all tools to diagnose patient’s internal physiological symptoms. Also reaching out to patients in distant places having poor Internet connectivity, poses even more challenging scenario. This can lead to a higher risk of patient mismanagement as compared to a standard in-office visit.
2. Technical Training for Doctors
Efficient and high-quality healthcare is only possible through a single doctor being assigned to the case. Involving more specialized doctors can lead to varying doctor’s opinions or sometimes reluctance to share their information with the primary physician. An error in the patient’s EHR or incomplete medical records can lead to wrong diagnosis of the patient.
Telemedicine is a recently introduced technique and still there are medical practitioners unfamiliar with the pros and cons of Telemedicine. Doctors and the personnel staff need to be sound technically in order to manage system effectively. Also IT staff needs to be recruited and additional equipment needs to be arranged.
Management should understand that the entire transition might take time and should not create pressure for individuals who are not tech savvy.
3. Healthcare Laws and Insurance Policies
Though there is a surge in the Telemedicine adoption worldwide, Insurance companies have failed to keep pace with it. The healthcare industry is growing rapidly, and new innovative ideas are introduced from time to time. However, at the same time, the system is not equipped with efficient reimbursement to patients in some regions. Some of the bottlenecks in this regard are:
- Licensing: Physicians are mandatory to have a valid license in their practicing state or country. A physician is referred to as ‘Practicing Medicine’ with the administrative boundaries of state to provide care. It is therefore essential for provider to verify patient’s location. Some states are known to offer expedited means to issue limited licenses for practice of Telemedicine.
- Medical Malpractice Coverage: Medical malpractice is also one of important factors to be considered even in Telemedicine. Provider needs to be aware of varied standards of care across jurisdictions. It is important to review fraudulent practices in insurance policies in order to ensure that individuals are covered for Telemedicine services.
- Patient-Physician Relationship: Though Telemedicine services offers convenience through use of smart devices, yet many countries mandate the in person examination through physician-patient relationship.
- Teleprescription: Limitations over prescription of medicine over Internet is restricted on the use of controlled substances. There are subsequent laws that have been established following the reports of fake prescriptions on the net. Many a states have established stringent rules over the prescription of such medicines without the examination of the patient in person.
Scope of Telemedicine is vast and it represents an industry with huge potential. Understanding both pros and cons of telemedicine shall enable the care providers to devise a strategy to enhance the scope of quality patient care in the coming years. There are rules regarding security and confidentiality of patient information with Telemedicine.
Extreme care should be taken in transmitting information online such as images, videos and the Audios. Telehealth users need to be proactive in the operation of technology when it comes to protection of the identities online. Also, it would be wise to consult with your insurance company to find out the reimbursement policies while using online telemedicine solutions.
We at Prologic Technologies have designed and developed some innovative Bespoke Telemedicine Solutions for various specialties like Orthopedic and Spinal care, Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Fitness and Wellness to name a few.
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