Telemedicine involves the use of electronic communications and software like computers, video, phones, or messaging to provide clinical services to patients virtually. Telemedicine can effectively be used for various applications, including follow-up visits, chronic condition monitoring, medication management, and consultations. Here are a few benefits of incorporating telemedicine into our current health care system.
Benefits of Telemedicine
1. Increased Convenience
Scheduling an in-office doctor’s visit requires patients to consider a variety of factors, including travel time, time off work, and childcare or eldercare arrangements. Telemedicine eliminates these decisions by allowing patients to access health care from the comfort of their homes. In many cases, they don’t need to take time off work or navigate from their usual responsibilities.
2. Mitigate the Spread of Disease
Because people visit the doctor when they are sick, doctor’s offices are full of germs. Utilizing telemedicine when it’s appropriate can eliminate unnecessary visits, reducing the spread of disease. This benefit makes telemedicine particularly attractive to patients with compromised immune systems like older adults, people who are pregnant, and patients with an underlying illness.
3. Improved Assessments
In some cases, virtual appointments conducted in the patient’s home can improve the health care provider’s ability to assess the patient. By being able to see the patient’s home environment, the health care provider can identify potential hazards or factors that are contributing to their symptoms. For example, an allergist can identify potential triggers the patient may have missed that are contributing to their uncomfortable symptoms. A geriatric physician may notice that their patient’s home isn’t safe.
4. Greater Access to Care
Some communities struggle to access health care more than others. Reasons may include mobility limitations that make it difficult for patients to travel to and from the doctor’s office or physical barriers such as distance. For example, many people who live in rural areas struggle to find access to health care due to the lack of physicians in their area.
5. Improved Management of Chronic Conditions and Medications
The outcomes for patients with chronic conditions are often better when managed regularly by their physician. Telemedicine can make it easier for patients to meet with their physicians regularly so they can adequately monitor their health and make adjustments as needed. The accountability associated with regular appointments can also improve the likeliness patients will adhere to their treatment plan. Doing so can reduce the risk of complications.
Telemedicine Complements the Current US Health Care System
Regarding telemedicine, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t replace all in-person doctor’s visits. When used appropriately, telemedicine can improve the quality of care patient’s receive, leading to better patient outcomes.