While seeing the doctor is often necessary, it isn’t always easy. Making an appointment at a convenient time, and then waiting in a room with sick people for your turn to see the doctor isn’t exactly appealing. But what if you could simply get in contact with your doctor from the comfort of your own home? That is the promise of telemedicine, but it isn’t always the result. We take a look at the pros and cons of telemedicine so that you can see if it is right for you and what you need to look out for to avoid some of the pitfalls.
- 1 Telemedicine Industry
- 2 Telemedicine Pros
- 3 Telemedicine Cons
Technological advances that now give everyone the ability to easily communicate via teleconferencing, has made telemedicine a convenient way to see a physician. The pandemic has also accelerated the take-up of telemedicine services, helping patients avoid putting themselves at further risk to connect with a doctor.
Along with the term telemedicine, you might also hear telehealth used. While these terms can be confused they are actually different things, however. Telemedicine is more of a general term describing medical care are using telecommunications technologies. On the other hand, telehealth is a service that uses electronic as well as telecommunications technology to provide care remotely to patients.
There are different types of telemedicine. One involves real-time videoconferencing doctor consultations and this is known as synchronous. The second type of telemedicine is asynchronous, this is when medical data is provided by the patient for assessments by the doctor later on not in real-time.
When you use telemedicine services, you might find you need to do both of these things, perhaps filling out a questionnaire preparing you for a video conference call with the doctor. The rules your state has on telemedicine will also change your experience. Some states require a face-to-face teleconference while others do not in order for the doctor to prescribe medication.
Whatever the exact requirements you need to meet for your telemedicine consultation, you can normally do it on your computer, or on a cell phone through an app.
Telemedicine can offer a lot of advantages ahead of a normal doctor visit. As more and more people understand what it is and try it out, this market will only increase.
As it grows bigger there will be improvements, but until then it isn’t perfect. Let’s first look at the good things about telemedicine and the reasons why you should give it a chance.
It couldn’t be simpler to securely engage in a telemedicine consultation. You can often do this on your phone or laptop, this is particularly advantageous if you aren’t feeling very well.
It also potentially gives access to medical services for high-risk groups of people, like seniors or people with chronic conditions. These high-risk groups don’t need to sit in waiting rooms for a long time either with telemedicine, which can otherwise put off patients who’re already suffering from an illness.
Research shows that many patients have simply walked away from an appointment because of long waiting times. It is also something that can cause patients to change doctors, so telemedicine could be the answer for many.
It is a particularly difficult issue for patients living in remote rural areas to see physicians for specialist reasons. If they have to visit a doctor it could mean a long distance to get to their appointment as well as an increased wait.
With telemedicine, patients can be connected with doctors anywhere in the country. This reduces a lot of the problems that would see patients in those areas not getting the medical attention they require.
Reduced Costs for a Doctor Appointment
Telemedicine has the potential to reduce unnecessary costs. The United States healthcare system is already the most expensive in the world, so anything that can reduce costs should be welcomed.
This type of service should be able to reduce the number of unnecessary visits to the emergency room. It might also help cut back on unnecessary lab testing. These things combined should have the potential to reduce the healthcare burden on patients.
Providing More Clues to the Doctor
A video conference call will let the doctor see some of the person’s home, and it might provide some valuable information on how they live their life. They can help with diagnosis and give answers to questions that the doctor might not have even considered asking.
Additionally, if the patient cannot remember the name of some medication or supplement they’ve been taking, they can simply go and get the bottle to show the doctor. These are additional bonuses that otherwise wouldn’t be available to the medical professional.
Telemedicine should allow the patient to gain access to a doctor more frequently. So if they have any concerns with the treatments they are taking, or additional information to provide, it is easier to get in contact with the doctor.
Before you decide whether telemedicine is your best option, there are many downsides to consider.
Limited Treatment Options
Not every type of ailment can be treated remotely. Here’s a list of some of the problems telemedicine can deal with:
- Men’s health
- Urinary tract infections
- Cold and flu
The telemedicine services available through pharmacies can tend to be fairly restricted, though this depends on the pharmacy concerned. However, there is very much a limit on what problems a doctor can deal with remotely.
While in theory accessing a doctor remotely should save you money, there can be extra costs. Some pharmacies will allow you to access a doctor only to receive prescription medications sold by subscription. This might mean that you get sent more medicines than you really need in some cases.
Sometimes doctor consultations are free, and if that’s the case the doctor’s time will have to be paid for somehow. The consultation will be covered by increased prices for the meds the pharmacy sells.
Often these types of pharmacies are also selling generic medications that are cheaper anyway. So while it might appear that your medical bills are low, they would have been lower anyway thanks to the generic meds being sold.
Fake Doctor Consultations
Quite a few scam pharmacies claim that they have a doctor check over your medical order to issue a prescription. They might have you fill out a brief questionnaire and claim that this gets sent to a doctor for review. Where in actual fact, all that happens is that they fill your order and do not employ a doctor to check medical questionnaires.
It can seem almost impossible to know so if the pharmacy you are dealing with actually stands by their word and uses the services of doctors to review your order and keep you safe. It is therefore important to make sure you check online pharmacy reviews 2022 for the latest information on scam pharmacies so you don’t find yourself fooled by an unreputable business.
If you do go to a scam pharmacy, it isn’t only the doctor’s consultation that might be fake. The pills that are sold on unreliable drugstores could also be fake. Counterfeit medications are a big problem online and something that anyone can easily be deceived by.
While this is a fairly new and growing market sector, inevitably, the best practice laws haven’t yet been put in place. This can mean that there are significant discrepancies between different states and what they require of patients and doctors.
This will certainly lead to problems for a pharmacy that works nationwide and lead to a lot of confusion for patients. There can also be issues surrounding privacy that might be a concern for patients and the rules may not have caught up with technology.
While remote access to a doctor can be very convenient, it does mean that the patient doesn’t get direct face-to-face interaction with their doctor. This can be quite important in many ways and helps the doctor better diagnose some types of health problems.
It simply may not be possible to accurately diagnose and resolve the patient’s issues through a video connection. Testing also cannot be done remotely and may require the patient to visit their doctor’s office or hospital anyway.
Choosing a Telemedicine Provider
There are many different telemedicine providers available and some of the pros will apply more to some pharmacies than others. You also don’t want to go to a drugstore that hits more of the cons, otherwise, you aren’t going to have a great experience.
To ensure that you go to the right pharmacies that are going to give you the best service, the best way is to read online pharmacy reviews 2022. They will steer you away from the scams and towards the more reliable telemedicine providers.
Once you have found a telemedicine supplier that actually provides a good service, you should be able to avoid some of the downsides. You should find it is an easier experience than a visit to a regular doctor, and overall it should be an aid to improving your health.