In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many medical professionals turned to telemedicine to reach patients when meeting in person was too risky. Now that the world is slowly returning to normal (at least somewhat), a surprisingly large population now prefers to stick with virtual visits whenever they can. Is this a good or bad thing?
Telemedicine is a technological innovation that allows doctors to diagnose and treat patients remotely without being physically in the same space. It’s often used for remote consultations and visits with patients far away. Still, it can also be used for other health-related services such as prescription delivery and disease management.
Many companies are now offering telemedicine services, which have become a new way for patients to access health care. Like in traditional face-to-face visits with doctors and other health care providers, a telemedicine visit will usually include a series of questions and answers between a patient and a doctor.
How new are these services?
One of the earliest forms of telemedicine was developed in the 1960s by NASA to monitor the health of astronauts during Project Mercury. NASA created a worldwide network of physicians who would be on hand for remote medical help 24/7. After the success of this, the US National Library of Medicine designated millions of dollars in 1966 for telemedicine projects to serve isolated areas with phone appointments.
What medical fields have benefitted from telemedicine?
Telemedicine has been beneficial for various medical fields, including but not limited to: education, research, remote surgery, and patient education. Telemedicine has been used to improve the quality of education across the country, including distance education programs for medical students and doctors and virtual surgical training.
It has also been used to conduct research in remote locations, such as Antarctica, which has allowed scientists to conduct groundbreaking studies. It has also been used for remote surgery, such as in a patient in France who had a brain tumor removed via telemedicine, which allowed the surgeon to operate remotely while the patient was video-conferenced.
What are the challenges of telemedicine?
One of the biggest challenges of telemedicine is the cost of providing services, which can be very expensive. This can be a significant obstacle for more minor medical facilities and clinics, which may not have the resources to offer telemedicine services.
In addition, several legal issues must be addressed when providing telemedicine services, such as having the right equipment in place, determining who is responsible for legal liability if something goes wrong, and so on.
How are these challenges being addressed?
Many companies now specialize in delivering affordable equipment to the doctors who need it. Companies, such as Demandforce patient software, are developing all-in-one suites of tools and integration when it comes to software solutions.
In addition, new laws are being passed to address specific challenges of telemedicine. For example, many states have passed laws to ensure that health insurance will cover telemedicine services, which has removed a significant obstacle for patients who couldn’t afford to pay for them in the past.
Other states have passed laws to ensure that patients have the right to refuse telemedicine services if they prefer traditional face-to-face visits.
Do patients prefer virtual visits?
Overwhelmingly so. A recent study by Doctors.com found that 83% of patients will continue to use telemedicine services even after the pandemic is over. Patients are most optimistic about how much time is saved by these services.
Furthermore, virtual visits have led to higher patient compliance and satisfaction. 91% of those surveyed stated they would be more likely to use telehealth to help them stick to appointments, refill prescriptions, and get follow-up care.
Telemedicine is here to stay. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more critical for patients to access virtual visits. Patients are now more likely to use telemedicine services than ever before. This is a good thing for patients, and it is a good thing for healthcare providers, as it provides a holistic way to provide care. However, legal and financial issues still need to be addressed.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.