Telemedicine Pros and Cons

Telemedicine is the practice of a doctor seeing a patient remotely instead of in person. A doctor could use a video chat program, for example, to interview a patient and conduct a visual inspection of some physical symptoms. In return, patients can remain at home and fit their doctor consultation in on their time and not have to worry about sitting for hours in waiting rooms or in exam rooms while awaiting a doctor visit. Although there are some advantages to a system of telemedicine, there are some disadvantages to it as well.

Here Are the Pros of Telemedicine

1. It offers doctors the chance to check-in with patients without a formal appointment.
This would be especially beneficial for patients who are on a long-term return situation where interviews are the primary reason for a visit. Many communities don’t have access to specialists that are close, so patients could save time and money with a quick video chat.

2. It’s incredibly cheap.
Telemedicine is often charged at 25% the normal general practice doctor rates that are seen today. Some appointments can be had for as little as $30. In comparison, some specialists might charge $720 for a 15 minute update visit where only a few questions are asked to determine the nature of the patient’s health.

3. It allows more patients to be seen.
Because there isn’t any physical transfer of patients through telemedicine, doctors can talk with more patients every day and meet more health needs. If prescriptions were needed, they could be sent to a patient’s pharmacy directly with an e-prescription.

Here Are the Cons of Telemedicine

1. There is no way to really examine a patient.
If a patient calls into a telemedicine line to say that they have a headache and a runny nose, it would be difficult for a doctor to determine if that patient was suffering from a viral or bacterial infection. Questions could be asked, but no physical confirmation could be obtained.

2. It doesn’t solve the doctor shortage issue.
Telemedicine is essentially a stop-gap measure to help reduce excess patient loads. In the United States, there are far too many patients for doctors right now. Although this is due to health care law changes, the population is going to be aging over the next two decades and more doctors will be required.

3. It could create culture shock.
Telemedicine opens up the possibility of being treated by a foreign doctor. Because different cultures tend to look at medicine a little differently, it could create a treatment gap in communities because different patients would be treated by different doctors in completely unique ways.

Telemedicine has some advantages to consider, but there are also some disadvantages that must be thought about before spending money on this system of treatment. By weighing the pros and cons of telemedicine, however, we can all come to a conclusion that can benefit us all.

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