How many times in a day do you heard or read that the internet has transformed modern life? Indeed, it has probably changed the way you stay in touch with your friends and family, make your health decisions or even search for the information necessary for the health problems.
There is a variety of telehealth tools that are available that manages your health care and receive the services you require. But are you even taking advantage of them?
Telehealth is explained as the delivery of health education, health care, and other related health information through remote technologies. Telehealth comprises different healthcare series that have the leverage of being endorsed through telecommunication to the patients. Telehealth has often been used synonymously with telemedicine but in reality, both are quite different from one another.
Telehealth is a relatively new term or way to conduct medical practices. There are many pros and cons of telehealth that are faced by the patients, healthcare experts, physicians, etc.
There are some instances where the visit to a doctor in person becomes mandatory but still, the pros of telehealth definitely outweigh the cons of it.
Let’s have a look at some of the pros of telehealth first:
Pros of Telehealth
Minimizes the spread of infections and diseases
One of the many reasons why telehealth and telemedicine became renowned during the coronavirus pandemic was because it allowed the medical experts and physicians to deliver their great healthcare to their patients through virtual appointments which were conducted through video calls or on the phone.
These virtual healthcare visits replaced the in-person appointments in the office which previously had allowed the physicians to examine the patients and check their vitals as well. But these replacements actually cut down the risk of exposure to the germs and also saved both the patients and the physicians from the risk of getting coronavirus infection when the pandemic was soaring high.
This is extremely important to notice especially if the patient has already contracted Covid-19 or any other kind of flu and has a chance of giving it to the person who comes in contact.
Telehealth helped immensely in minimizing the spread of germs and infectious diseases without any kind of compromise over the physician’s credibility in providing the best possible health care.
Telehealth sessions or appointments are extremely convenient for the patient as well as the health care expert. The doctor can conduct the scheduled appointment from anywhere in the world, unless and until the patient has a strong internet connection. It made it way easier for a lot of patients to access health care, especially if they had been struggling with transport issues or lived in rural areas where it is hard to find specialists.
Another convenience attached to telehealth was that the patients could wait in solace, privacy, and comfort of their own place instead of waiting for their turn while spending time interacting with other patients in the waiting area of the physician’s office.
It was also convenient and less stressful for patients who wanted to have a virtual meeting with their doctor while they were vacationing or visiting their loved ones out of town.
It became equally convenient for the doctors as well to conduct the appointment on the go. They could catch up with their patients and know about their whereabouts and progress while not being in their office physically but virtually in any other remote location.
Reduction of unnecessary visits to the ER
This has been one of the most vital advantages of telehealth so far. It means that as the patient has the liberty of contacting the doctor from their home if any kind of urgent medical situation arises, telehealth will help the patient to avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital or the emergency room, saving quite a lot of bucks!
If you are a healthcare physician, you can easily manage to follow-ups with your patient once he has been discharged from the hospital. The treatment can be adhered to at home which will prevent long stays in the hospital or any kind of readmission. The patients can connect with the healthcare provider virtually and discuss their condition as well as ask for any kind of medical advice without going for in-person visits to the hospital or the office of the healthcare provider.
Help in improving the outcomes of patients
Telehealth keeps a check on patients whether they are following the regime prescribed by their health care provider or not. Because telehealth and telemedicine make sure that the patients are indeed following the routine, the physicians, doctors, and medical experts can manage the health of the patients more easily. This saves the patients from contracting any kind of chronic medical condition.
The wearable technology of telehealth revolutionized the medical sector even more. The remote monitoring tools for heart rate, blood sugar level, and blood pressure level can completely ensure that the patient is collecting and recording the health data on a regular basis to discuss it with the physician. This also improves the recommendations that the medical health provider will make in the future related to the health of the patient.
Now let’s have a look at some of the cons of telehealth which cannot be ignored at any cost:
Cons of telehealth
Regulation and the digital system can be confusing
The coronavirus pandemic changed the rules and regulations of telehealth services temporarily and permanently in some states. This has caused confusion amongst the patients who had been relying on telehealth services. For instance, there are a lot of states who have re-regulated telehealth services and it has become hard to get a virtual appointment under local laws.
The healthcare industry has also brought up some new barriers to introducing transparency in the digital system but that has not been taken well by the masses. For instance, interoperability like the electronic health record (EHR) system has also been introduced to help the patients but unfortunately, they have only complicated the services provided by telemedicine and telehealth. This is the mere reason why a lot of health care physicians and experts have become overly reluctant to continue to use telehealth services after the pandemic was over.
Impossible to conduct a virtual physical examination
It is virtually impossible to have a physical examination of a patient who is suffering from any chronic disease.
The minor health conditions which can easily be diagnosed and treated through a patient-doctor conversation can be treated easily and have been successful but there have been quite a few instances where the physical examination becomes necessary.
For example, a lab test will require a cheek swab or a blood withdrawal, these samples cannot be collected virtually, therefore this is where telehealth services fail to provide assistance to the patients as well as be a help to the health care provider.
Similarly, there are many screenings that are mandatory, there are preventive and routine screenings for lung cancer or a mammogram which makes it absolutely mandatory for the patient to meet the physician in person.
Also, apart from the above-mentioned instances, there are follow-up visits, and diagnoses of any kind of minor illness or infection that requires to be treated in the hospital for the refilling of medication, for these in-person meetings are important.
So, for infections and diseases which cannot be cured through telehealth interaction or services, they require one-on-one meetings between the patient and the healthcare provider.
Requires additional equipment
Sometimes telehealth and the virtual meetings associated with it might require the patient and the healthcare provider to download certain software or equipment for instance an app.
There might be a possibility that the patients are reluctant to download a new app considering the increased risks of malware and viruses. In many cases, a lot of patients are not technology illiterate and do not know how to do it or even conduct a virtual meeting with their physician.
However, this con is being sorted out gradually as the developers are making the system of telehealth simple and basic to be used by the elderly population and the technology illiterate patients.
Now, there is no requirement for any extra software, app or equipment for the telehealth virtual sessions, all you require is a personal gadget like a phone or a tablet and a good internet connection.
The patients are given a set of instructions on how to operate the virtual session and have a tension-free meeting with the healthcare provider.
There are a lot more pros and cons of telehealth as it is becoming a vital part of the healthcare industry. But as the pros have outweighed the cons of telehealth, this new digital services provider is revolutionizing the healthcare industry across the globe.
Furthermore, the rapidly emerging technologies across the world have also simplified telehealth and have streamlined them as well. Telehealth is now providing vaccination services and recording it also in its database.
This program effectively provides healthcare services to patients across the United States of America with complete privacy and streamlined procedures. Most health care providers and physicians are joining the network of telehealth and telemedicine to serve the country better specifically in the pandemic times and get themselves accustomed to the latest technology which is no doubt the future of the medical industry.