Telemedicine Pros and Cons List

It’s no secret that we tend to live fast paced lifestyles. Fitting a doctor’s appointment or dentist check up into an already busy schedule can be very challenging. With telemedicine, a new form of telecommunications that allows a person to meet with a physician through video chat or e-mail, a person can often receive the care they need without getting up from their desk.

Over 30 million Americans have already used telemedicine to meet their needs, with more expected to join. This form of treatment has drawn a fair amount of criticism and applause from detractors and supporters. The following is a closer look at the pros and cons that are involved with the implementation of telemedicine.

List of Pros of Telemedicine

1. The Convenience Factor
No matter where you are and what other important tasks you have to complete, you are able to contact a physician and get real answers about whatever is ailing you. Having to schedule doctor’s appointments around meetings or conference calls is no longer any concern. Patients can follow up on any recent diagnoses they have received and have their prescriptions refilled without even having to leave their office chair.

If a doctor has already been seeing the patient for several years, the telemedicine process becomes even simpler, due to the fact that the doctor is already up to date on all of your pertinent medical information. With telemedicine, the patient has access to a medical experience that is much like the one they would have at the office, but without all of the attendant hassles.

2. Less Time Spent At The Doctor’s Office
Any time that can be spent taking care of other crucial obligations, as opposed to sitting in a waiting room for hours reading through last year’s issues of People is a boon to the patient. All of us have gone through the tedious experience of sitting and waiting on a doctor or a dentist whose schedule suddenly seems to become much more packed when we are most in need of help.

Online care may take an additional moment or two while you register and put in all of your key information, but the time spent on this task is a mere pittance as compared to all of the hours that we’ve had to spend in a doctor’s office over the course of our lives. Just a couple of minutes on the website and you can receive your necessary care.

3. Lowered Costs + Increased Access
A doctor is able to charge a patient much less for an online consultation than they would for an in person visit, which is great for all those nagging concerns that require medical attention, but are not cumbersome enough to halt our daily lives. Travel expenses for patients who do not live close to their primary care physicians are also reduced.

Telemedicine also increases access to medical care for patients who live in rural regions and are not able to take trips to the doctor’s office easily. Elderly patients who live outside of urban areas have always been at risk and telemedicine significantly reduces these risk factors.

List of Cons of Telemedicine

1. Unreliable Technology
Technology is often subject to glitches that are not the fault of the doctor or the patient. Stormy or inclement weather conditions can knock out a patient’s power and leave them unable to contact their primary case physician during a time of dire need. Internet connections are not infallible, as a service provider may experience outages on their end, causing communication issues for a patient.

An online consultation can also be disrupted by video buffering issues or a video processor that does not allow the patient to fully understand what their physician is saying. When receiving important medical instructions, there is no substitute for being at the doctor’s office, in person. This ensures that there is no confusion.

2. Inaccurate Diagnosis
There are certain visual cues that a doctor may miss out on when attempting to diagnose your medical issue over the Internet. For lesser issues, having the ability to interface with a doctor through video chat or e-mail can be extremely helpful. On the other hand, more important problems can slip through the cracks during an online diagnosis. It is easier for the doctor to ignore certain warning signs under these circumstances.

In order to make a confident diagnosis, a doctor needs to be able to put their hands on a patient and speak them in person. For certain maladies, a video conference may do the trick. But for more important problems, a patient’s risk factors increase if they attempt to receive treatment without actually setting foot in the doctor’s office.

3. Resistance In The Medical Community
Doctors have a variety of reasons why they are not all comfortable with the telemedicine concept. Some may believe that it will increase the chances of giving their patient an inaccurate diagnosis or prescribing the wrong medication. Other doctors will bemoan the loss of money as more and more patients attempt to use telemedicine to avoid the additional cost of an in person visit.

Some doctors are intrigued by the idea of being able to treat more patients, but many are aware of the inherent limitations when it comes to telemedicine. There are also older doctors who are not as technologically adept as their younger counterparts, which also leads to increased hesitation to adopt telemedicine related courses of treatment.