In 2020, many things changed out of necessity. Some changes were for the better; some decidedly not so. One of the big changes that happened was telemedicine visits. You may have even experienced one of these yourself. Instead of going to the doctor’s office when you feel sick, you had the option to stay home and speak with your doctor via video conference online. In this way, you minimized your exposure to others who may have COVID-19, and you potentially also prevented spreading the virus if you yourself had it. You even have the option of uploading files or photos prior to the appointment for your doctor to review. There are several pros and cons to telemedicine, so let us look at some of them in more detail below.
Faster Response Time
In many cases, scheduling a telemedicine visit can be much faster than scheduling an in-office visit. This is because a doctor’s office is not having to spread out appointments to limit the number of people who are in the building at any one time. Many times, you will have also uploaded all the pertinent information and any photos or additional documentation ahead of time, so your doctor is able to see all of that upfront. This makes the appointment itself much faster, and everything runs much smoother.
While telemedicine was available before 2020, it became significantly more essential after COVID-19 hit. As a result, many insurance companies opened up access to doctors, hospitals, and patients to utilize this in their practice. Telemedicine is not solely helpful during COVID-19. Telemedicine is even being adapted to emergency treatment for things like stroke, where getting a rapid response is critical to recovery. Indeed, it is even being used to help train and further the education of doctors and nurses in their time outside of medical practice.
Many patients are turning to telemedicine, even when they are not contagious. Largely, this is because they find it is easier to fit telemedicine into their schedules. When scheduling an appointment during a busy workday, patients no longer have to consider commute time in their schedule. Instead, they only have to plan for time to log in and have a conversation. This makes telemedicine very appealing in a fast-paced world.
As convenient as it is to send a photo and log in to a video conference, there is still something to be said for in-person doctor visits. Photographs can only show the object in two dimensions instead of three. And it is also difficult to show scale or proper coloration in a photograph. For this reason, some people still prefer an in-person visit.
Another downside to telemedicine is the uncertainty of connection success. There is a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to telemedicine, so those who are not as well versed in technology may struggle to get connected. And any interruptions in internet connection can make telemedicine frustrating.
With telemedicine and the greater use of technology in the medical field, many people are concerned with the level of privacy being maintained with regard to medical records and personal information. There is something to be said for keeping certain information offline, as it is the only surefire way to avoid exposing information through an internet breach.