Telehealth is the delivery of health care services remotely through technology and is becoming more and more popular.
Traditionally, doctors and other healthcare professionals have personally cared for their patients at a medical clinic or hospital. While these in-person visits are still necessary, many patients seek care through virtual therapy for added convenience.
Telehealth has many benefits for patients, but there are some drawbacks. This article explores telehealth’s pros and cons, when it is appropriate, and where it could be challenging.
Services with Telehealth
First, we’ll want to dive into what telehealth can accomplish. Here are some medical services that are possible:
- Recording measurements
- Booking a virtual visit with your doctor or a nurse
- Using an online portal for test results, prescription refills, or appointment scheduling.
- Sharing important medical information
- Coordinating care between your primary doctor and any specialists
- Getting email or text reminders about appointments or screenings
Advantages of Telehealth
Here are some of the advantages of telehealth:
Reduces the Spread of Infectious Diseases
Telehealth can prevent contagious people from going to the doctor or hospital. As a result, there is less of a chance of spreading illness. In addition, patients can pick up germs from visiting their doctor. Instead, if someone books a virtual appointment, their doctor can monitor their condition and prescribe the treatment without seeing them face to face.
Much More Convenience
When it comes to telehealth, convenience is vital. Healthcare providers can perform a virtual visit from nearly anywhere in the world if they have an internet connection.
Provides Assistance in Rural Areas
Telehealth services are incredibly convenient for those living in rural areas who need health care access.
People living in rural settings would need to take hours of their day to travel to their doctor in person. Telehealth eliminates this type of inconvenience.
Telehealth is very effective at minimizing costs overall. First, a virtual health visit costs less than if you were to go in person. Ultimately, people could save nearly four times lower than the price of an in-person visit.
Makes Follow-Ups a Breeze
If you’re looking for a follow-up appointment, telehealth can be an excellent way to check with your doctor without having to go to their clinic. These appointments are usually quick, so doing them virtually is much more convenient. In addition, if you’re recovering from a procedure, traveling to your appointment could be daunting. Telehealth takes out any hassle of follow-up appointments.
In-person appointments can have longer waiting times than virtual visits. In addition, they can physically take up more time in person.
Since Telehealth and virtual visits are so convenient, patients won’t cancel visits as often or not show up to their appointment. This occurrence is beneficial to both the medical practitioner and the patient. For example, patients won’t have to pay no-show fees, and doctors won’t lose any revenue from missed appointments.
Reaches More Patients
Telehealth can reach more patients since doctors can connect with anyone from anywhere in the world. As a result, medical providers can increase their number of patients and serve more people as a way to stay in business. It also provides flexibility for the patient.
Cons to Telehealth
Even though telehealth is hugely convenient and beneficial to many people, anything always has drawbacks. Here are some of the cons:
Not All Visits are Created Equal
All medical appointments can’t be made virtually. Some will require imaging, test, bloodwork, diagnostic procedures, and more. In addition, if a physical exam is needed, it won’t be possible to conduct it online.
You Need Internet
Did you know that 10% of Americans still don’t have access to or use the internet? Telehealth depends on an online connection; not everyone can have this type of connection. In addition, if someone has a poor internet connection, this could impact the doctor’s visit, and both the patient and medical practitioner will lose time and experience frustration. Sometimes, it can even postpone the appointment.
You Need a Smart Device
Similar to needing the internet, telehealth requires using a smart device or computer. These devices also need to support whatever platform the medical practitioner is operating.
According to statistics, 19% of Americans still don’t own a smartphone.
As a result, a patient may have difficulties accessing telehealth and require buying or borrowing a new device from someone.
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Older Generations May Struggle
One downside to telehealth is that some people, including older generations, may not be as familiar with these services, open to it, or know how to utilize the technology. As a result, telehealth can be more challenging for them and not as convenient.
Data Security Worries
Many people are worried about their data security online. Some patients may be hesitant to book a Telehealth appointment because of the security risks since online data can get hacked. For example, if a cyber-criminal manages to get into a patient’s account, they can access sensitive information like a person’s medical records.
Even though many insurance companies have been able to cover Telehealth appointment feeds, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, these services are not fully covered. As a result, a patient could be paying for them out of pocket. However, this fact would also apply to in-person appointments; as previously mentioned, virtual visits are cheaper.
There are many more pros and cons regarding telehealth as part of a person’s medical care needs. The pros may outweigh the cons since telehealth has added much more convenience and flexibility to people’s lives.