Telemedicine is a concept that can redefine and revolutionize the healthcare industry. But it is not exactly any path breaking innovation as it is simply an obvious byproduct of real time telecommunications that is today available in the form of video chats, text chats and emails.
Telemedicine is, simply put, tele-healthcare. Patients or normal people don’t have to visit their doctors, don’t have to setup appointments physically and there is no need to be at a certain clinic at a certain time. Telemedicine has already been used by more than thirty five million people in the country and estimates suggest that as much as seventy percent of instances when doctor visits are needed can be managed by telemedicine.
List of Pros of Telemedicine
1. The biggest advantage of telemedicine is convenience. People struggle to get appointments in their busy schedules. Not only do patients find it difficult but doctors too are pressed for time. Lunch hour appointments cannot be innumerable. There are only a few appointments that a doctor can attend to during the lunch hours and that certainly doesn’t address the needs of so many people who would find it convenient to meet their doctors within that small period of time.
It is not just the aspect of time that creates problems, the need to drive over to the clinic while meandering through the heavy traffic in cities or traveling long distances to get to the doctor’s office can all be cumbersome and often impractical. Traditional doctor visits are becoming more and more challenging as people get busier and also unhealthier. Telemedicine is the answer to all such problems. Now, one doesn’t need to be at specific places. One can be at his or her desk and consult with a doctor through video conferencing, text chats or emails.
2. Wasting time in the waiting room is also a reality that one has to deal with while visiting doctors. If someone has to be on time so the doctor doesn’t move on to his or her next appointment, then one has to arrive at the clinic early, certainly several minutes before the scheduled appointment time. If one reaches considerably earlier then the time wasted in the waiting room is simply unproductive and often people cannot afford to waste such a time. Telemedicine doesn’t need anyone to waste any such time. One can hook on to the video conference only when it is the exact time. Since hooking onto such conferences is a matter of a few clicks from the very workstation or office where one is working, there is really no time needed to set things up.
3. Telemedicine is economic. Doctors can consult more people in a small period of time. Elaborate physical setups or waiting rooms don’t find any necessity. People can save money on traveling and also taking half days and such leaves which cost them money. Overall, everyone wins with telemedicine, from doctors to patients to companies that otherwise would have to grant short leaves to their employees.
4. Telemedicine can allow real time correspondence of medical reports. X-rays and other results can be sent over in no time and doctors can also discuss the same with the patients online without the two parties being at the same place.
5. Seeing multiple doctors or opting for second opinions also become extremely easy with telemedicine. One doesn’t have to travel to another part of the town along with all the medical reports and history. A patient can simply log on to another online correspondence, share all reports virtually and get a second opinion or consult more than one doctor. This also saves money on postage and paper that would otherwise be unavoidable to send out reports.
6. Telemedicine is HIPAA compliant. It is private and very safe. A patient isn’t compromising on personal safety or security. The entire consultation or encounter is discreet.
List of Cons of Telemedicine
1. Telemedicine can work ineffectively if there are technical, electronic or electrical glitches. Not everyone would have the same quality of systems and not every place has the same quality of resources.
2. Telemedicine can reduce actual interaction with doctors which can lead to improper consultations. Doctors don’t get to see their patients in front of them and they may not get a good idea if the patients are adhering to the medicines or doing what they have been prescribed.
3. Physical evaluation or assessment and many kinds of diagnosis are not possible through telemedicine. In all cases of diagnosis, other than those that can be done by interpreting reports, one would still have to pay a physical visit to a doctor.
4. Privacy can be a concern because online correspondences are not always safe. Medical reports or even videos of consultation can always be vulnerable to hackers and that can lead to a violation of privacy.