The Many Advantages of Telemedicine
Doctors are making house calls again!
In a modern twist on the traditional in-home visit, telemedicine puts a doctor at your bedside.
One of the main advantages of telemedicine is it serves people who can’t easily visit a doctor’s office.
Disabled, elderly, and infectious patients can consult with a doctor without leaving home. It elminiates the risk of infection through contact with other waiting room patients.
Want to talk to a doctor or specialist 24/7 from home? Here’s the lowdown on how telemedicine operates, and how it can save you time and money.
How Telemedicine Works
Telemedicine is the delivery of health services enabled by technology. Smartphones, wearable sensors, and wireless monitoring devices make it possible.
Today’s technology tracks physical activity, heart rate, weight, mood, sleep patterns, and more.
The original telemedicine was a phone call. Now, it’s a video chat. It can include an exam, lab results and sending your prescription to a local pharmacy. Doctors can watch symptoms, deliver test results or follow-up on healthcare issues.
Advantages of Telemedicine
Following are five examples of the benefits of telemedicine.
1. Home-based monitoring
A person with heart disease or another chronic condition can record vital statistics at home.
They can report their stats over the phone or through an app instead of during an office visit.
The patient doesn’t spend time and effort traveling to and from the doctor’s office.
This reduces stress, saves time, and allows the patient to meet with the doctor from the comfort of home.
2. Video Follow-up Visits
A doctor can use video chat instead of an office visit to check your progress or report the results of a test.
Many patients resist a follow-up visit that is usually a short conversation. But checking on progress is an essential part of any care plan. A video chat is convenient for the patient. It also gives the doctor essential information.
Sometimes viewing a patient in their home environment helps the doctor assess wellness.
3. Low-Stress Consults
No one enjoys going to a medical office. The experience usually involves a crowded waiting room filled with other sick people.
One of the big advantages of telemedicine is it reduces the stress of an office visit. A high-tech consult from home eliminates social anxiety and physical discomfort.
4. Text Messaging Support
Text messaging supports people on restricted diets with interactive, immediate support. It does the same for smoking cessation patients.
Texting is an easy and effective way to communicate with patients when they need help. It’s done through a series of messages over time, or as an immediate helpline.
5. Video Care
Another one of the advantages of telemedicine is video care. It works as an extension of a clinic, hospital or physician group.
Patients can gain access to specialists who are thousands of miles away. Telemedicine also eliminates the cost of travel and time away from work.
Patients can choose a video chat for support or intervention. This works well with an ongoing concern like smoking cessation.
Video care includes access to an online video library and continuing education.
Many traditional physicians and older patients may resist telemedicine. Most physicians in practice today trained to meet with patients face-to-face. Younger doctors are more accepting of technology interactions. People who use healthcare may place greater value on social interaction with physicians. They may not want to reduce in-person appointments.
Some doctors worry about malpractice liability. Yet, most malpractice carriers are telemedicine-friendly. There are very few telemedicine malpractice cases. Malpractice is a possibility for all healthcare providers using traditional methods or telemedicine.
Federal and State Law
Some state laws require a doctor be licensed in the state where the patient is located. This could definitely reduce some of the advantages of telemedicine.
For example, a specialist can’t consult with a patient who lives in a different state. A patient who moves, or spends time in another state, can’t use their home state doctor for telemedicine.
No federal law exists yet. There is legislation pending on telemedicine to establish a federal standard. Right now each state has its own rules and regulations.
Patients may express concern over the security of video chats and records transmission.
The Future of Telemedicine
In May, Texas became the last state to allow doctors to see patients without an initial in-person visit.
Just a few months later, Hurricane Harvey made telemedicine essential for many displaced Texans.
Disaster responders set up a telemedicine station in the Dallas shelter for hurricane victims. The station allowed ER physicians at the hospital to see patients remotely. A computer screen and special equipment let doctors diagnose and treat people.
Flood conditions cause lots of rashes and infections. Stressful situations can irritate chronic conditions like asthma, anxiety, and depression. The advantage of telemedicine is the ER doctors were available any time of the day.
Health officials want telemedicine included in every disaster relief and recovery plan. But, first doctors need permission to practice telemedicine across state lines.
A poignant illustration of this issue occurred during Hurricane Harvey.
Doctors from around the country wanted to provide medical care during the hurricane. State law only allowed doctors licensed to practice in Texas to use telemedicine.
The Bottom Line
Below are a few reasons why face-to-face doctor visits won’t go away.
- Some patients have complex or complicated illnesses
- An initial diagnosis requires one-on-one assessments
- Sensitive communications are delivered in person
On the other hand, a virtual visit is a perfect fit for other care interactions. Blood pressure, weight, dermatology or low emotional impact issues work.
The advantages of telemedicine include less travel and wait time, extra services, and promotion of well care.
Telemedicine is beneficial for employers. It reduces the time employees are absent from work because of doctor visits.
Contact the Proactive Broker Network
Want to know more? Contact Proactive Broker Network to incorporate telemedicine into your health management plan.