Telemedicine has come a long way in recent years. This aspect of healthcare has been accelerated in the early stages of COVID-19. This allowed doctors to communicate with their patients without putting anyone at risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
The benefits of online medicine are even more prevalent today. Therapy sessions can be conducted entirely online. Patients at home now have better access to health care. As telemedicine only gets better, many are now asking if this means the end of in-person doctor visits.
While trends are shifting towards greater use of telehealth, there are still many reasons why people visit the doctor’s office. Below are some of them, as well as some of the ways telemedicine is improving healthcare as we know it:
1. Lack of equipment
Now, with telemedicine, you can do a lot from home. You can use video calls to contact your doctor. You can order and refill prescriptions from your mobile phone. You can even get your birth control shot in the comfort of your own home. However, you will still have various equipment that you don’t have that may require a visit to the doctor’s office.
For example, your first aid kit may not have a pressure gauge. Without it, you won’t be able to report your vital signs to your healthcare provider. You can buy it, but then you have to learn how to use it correctly.
In addition, there are some aspects of medical care that must be carried out personally. The doctor may need to listen to your lungs or examine your ears. These tasks are simply impossible without personal consultation.
2. Custom technical difficulties
In addition to medical equipment, telehealth requires a certain amount of personal technology to operate. An effective online appointment with a doctor requires a reliable internet connection and a good camera. Most people have a high quality smartphone these days, but this is not always the case for every patient.
Patients should also be able to make good use of their technology during a telemedicine visit. Troubleshooting audio and positioning the camera to make it easier for the doctor to see are examples of responsibilities that the patient must take on. Otherwise, an online appointment with a doctor will not be very fruitful.
If most patients have the necessary technology, perhaps all they need is a little training in online doctor appointments. Healthcare professionals can create short videos for new patients teaching them how to hold the camera and adjust the sound. They can also teach patients how to share important documents online. Thanks to this, user complexities and shortcomings will not interfere with virtual health.
In the event of an emergency, it is almost always best to contact a healthcare professional in person. Serious injuries and illnesses heal more easily if they are directly managed by a doctor. Minor health issues can often be resolved with a video call. But doctors are likely to take a more hands-on approach to more dangerous problems.
This does not mean that online medicine will not be useful during an emergency. Talking to your doctor when an allergic reaction starts can help keep it under control on the way to the hospital. This combination of virtual and in-person healthcare is more effective than either one alone.
The emergency aspect of online medicine can be just as useful for first responders. EMTs on their way to the scene of an accident may guide someone to the scene with CPR to give the victim a chance of survival. Such terrible situations simply cannot wait for a visit to the doctor.
4. Insurance coverage
Hopefully this will change soon, but telehealth coverage is not always a guarantee. Not all states have laws requiring full coverage of telemedicine visits. This means coverage in your state can be minimal at best.
This should change soon because, frankly, online doctor appointments are often cheaper for the provider. Online appointments do not require space in the building and often take less time, freeing up the provider to see more patients.
If telemedicine is more expensive than regular doctor visits, people will continue to choose in-person visits. As online medicine continues to improve and become more widespread, more people will start making virtual appointments.
5. Comfort and safety
The last thing to do is that many people are simply not used to online medicine yet. In addition to the medical care received, there is a sense of comfort and security that comes with being in a physical doctor’s office. Even if the attention is almost identical, the mental and emotional aspects of health are just as important to consider.
It may be nothing more than a placebo effect. However, the goal of healthcare is to ultimately help the patient feel better. If visiting a physical place helps with this, then it will remain part of the health care system.
While online medicine cannot completely eliminate doctor visits, it will change the healthcare industry forever. Even the current hybrid approach that many physicians are using is a huge step towards offering patients more options.
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