telemedicine

The Pros and Cons of Telemedicine

The implementation of telemedicine has risen immensely over the last few months, as social distancing requirements were put into place. Telemedicine can be a great way to communicate with your doctor in the safety of your own home. Virtual visits can be used to detect symptoms of COVID-19, fevers, rashes, cold and flu symptoms, aches and pains, minor musculoskeletal injuries, small infections, and UTIs. While telemedicine can be an effective way to treat patients, there are pros and cons to consider.

The pros associated with telemedicine include:

  • Convenience. According to a study, 74% of patients prefer easy access to healthcare services over in-person appointments. Not only does this provide convenience for all patients, but it also helps those who live in remote locations have access to proper patient care. 
  • Cost-effective options. These services reduce healthcare service costs significantly. It helps to attract new patients, reduce no-shows, and reduce overhead for physicians who decide to utilize telemedicine.
  • Patients minimize unnecessary visits. As a patient, it can be a waste of time and money to go to the doctor or ER for minor medical consultations. If your symptoms do not require an in-person visit, opt for a telemedicine appointment instead! 
  • Telemedicine can lead to improved healthcare quality. When it is easier for providers to engage with patients, and remotely track their health with monitoring systems, they can work to identify problems as they develop. 

Now, let’s look at some of the cons linked to telemedicine:

  • Sometimes in-person visits are necessary to diagnose. Physical exams are impossible over the phone, which may be necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of a patient. For example, the COVID-19 test requires a nose and throat swab, to diagnose, so you must go to the doctor physically.
  • Security concerns. With the relaxation of telemedicine requirements due to the global pandemic, security concerns may arise. Cybercriminals can hack into telemedicine systems to steal personal healthcare information. 
  • You may not know the doctor providing your care. Utilizing virtual care services may mean you have a stranger on the other end of the call. These doctors will likely be unfamiliar with you and your medical history, and it may affect the level of care they can provide.
  • Training and equipment can be expensive. Reorganizing IT staff to train and create effective equipment costs both time and money. To ensure ROI from implementing telemedicine, staff, physicians, and medical staff needed to be trained properly. 

Although there are a few things to work out within the telemedicine technology, as you work to implement telemedicine into your benefit programs, the benefits of telemedicine can make a large impact. At SBMA, we believe in the power of telemedicine. That’s why we offer free telemedicine programs in all of our benefit programs. Learn more here.