Telemedicine is becoming more and more popular every day, especially now, with the pandemic taking over the world and people advised to stay home. Recent studies show that it helps to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. But is it good for the patients?
Telehealth is exceptionally comfortable: all you need to do is reserve a date, pay (or let the insurance company do it for you) and wait for the doctor to contact you. All that’s left then is explaining your symptoms, getting diagnosed, and going to a pharmacy to pick up the meds (or even getting them delivered right to your doorstep).
But does it work? Can a doctor really evaluate what’s wrong only by listening to the patient? Let’s try to figure it out. Here are some proven benefits of telehealth.
Low risk of exposure
The first and probably the most important benefit of telemedicine is that it reduces the risk of exposure significantly. Whether you have a simple cold or a case of COVID-19 (we hope not), you will spread the illness neither to your doctor nor to other people in line. And if you don’t have a contagious condition, you’re staying safe and sound at home.
Also, as experts from heartlandmedical.com emphasise, there’s no risk of a medical equipment maintenance specialist being infected, as well as all the other non-medical personnel.
With teleconsultations, doctors and patients can avoid a busy medical office environment: no reception, no nurses, no lines. You don’t have to spend time waiting outside the doctor’s room, trying to remember all the symptoms. Everyone is more focused and relaxed thanks to the environment they’re used to. And a video chat is also a more effective means of communication than a phone, as you have a feeling that you talk to a live person, not just a voice in the box.
Fewer obstacles for visit
Telehealth means you don’t have to drive or take a bus to the medical office: you’re staying at home, waiting for the doctor to call. You even don’t have to find a lot of time for a visit; all you need is around 10 to 15 minutes for the conversation. Your children or elderly relatives stay under your care, if necessary, and you don’t need to take some time off at work.
Moreover, thanks to telehealth, you won’t have problems finding a specialist even if you live in a rural area.
Help during diagnostic tests review
Sometimes you simply need to do some diagnostic tests, and in most cases, you need a doctor’s advice right after. Telehealth will help you with that: the doctor won’t only call you to inform you about the results, but they’ll also tell you what you can do.
With severe conditions, the information about the results has to be told face-to-face, so the doctor has to make sure that the patient understands their situation correctly. Video call is the best option for that in today’s times.
An alternative for the follow-up visits
Very often, when patients feel better, they avoid any follow-up meetings because of a lack of time. Telehealth can help with that – now, you can simply set up an online meeting with your doctor and inform them whether the treatment is working or you have any concerns. While, for the first visit to the doctors, you may need to go to the medical office because you need to be analysed in person with follow-up visits, telemedicine works the best.
Convenient patient monitoring
Whether the person has just left the hospital or is taking medications, it’s essential to keep an eye on them. A video visit is a great way to check up on someone, not exposing the person to possible contagious illnesses. A quick call will ensure the treatment is effective and that the side effects are under control.
Telemedicine also makes life easier for people with chronic conditions, eliminating the need to visit the doctor periodically to have a check-up and get a prescription.
Effective mental health treatments
Mental health has been proven to be one of the areas where telemedicine is as effective as in-person treatment. Mental illnesses are increasingly common, but people often see a visit to the therapist’s as something embarrassing, especially if they live in a small town. Fortunately, telehealth allows for convenient private conversations and is an excellent way to find a good specialist no matter where you live.
A final note
Of course, healthcare decisions can’t be based on surveys alone. However, lately, telemedicine has become more popular than ever, which means that people want the option of video calling their doctor. But does it work?
Most often, telemedicine can be as effective as traditional healthcare, thanks to more open conversations, a less busy environment, and safer conditions. It’s also more convenient for the patients, as there’s no need to take a day off and drive to the clinic. Of course, in some cases, a physical examination is necessary. However, we’re sure that telehealth will definitely play a huge role in the future of medicine.
Beata Hardzei is a freelance writer.