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MedTech
8 minutes read

What Are the Pros and Cons of Telemedicine?

By Robert Kazmi
By Robert Kazmi
MedTech
8 minutes read

Exploring the pros and cons of telemedicine is vital as this technology expands and becomes more common in treatment. Healthcare systems worldwide are becoming oversaturated with patients as populations continue to grow in size and age. Luckily, technology is moving at a pace never seen before because there is a growing need to update existing health systems and modernize them for today’s patient population.

Fortunately, there are many opportunities for improvement in health care services. Governments and private companies understand these opportunities and have begun investing in better systems and technologies. However, the transition toward a new and improved model has shown to be a complex task. 

One of the many technological advancements that can help healthcare systems evolve rapidly to meet growing demands is telemedicine. Using this technology can help medical professionals and institutions reduce in-person visits and transition efficiently and effectively towards better medical systems. Mobile and web apps can help do this, as many users already have a device that can access the Internet.

In this post, we discuss what telemedicine is and its pros and cons. 

What Is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine uses technology on behalf of healthcare providers to deliver remote clinical services. It differs from telehealth solutions because this last encompasses additional non-clinical services. In other words, telemedicine services are a specialized branch of telehealth services. 

Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar-based clinical services, telemedicine shortens distances by eliminating unnecessary travel from medical professionals and patients alike. Eliminating this requirement helps healthcare providers become more efficient and effective because it removes the barrier of using a physical healthcare facility. Thus, a healthcare professional can efficiently perform a virtual visit, helping a patient remotely. 

Thanks to the possibilities that contemporary telecommunications offer, healthcare providers can use virtual care to address more patients without sacrificing service quality. A telemedicine program has the potential to reduce costs and optimize existing healthcare infrastructure by prioritizing patients who need in-person physical care. 

To provide an excellent remote service, patients and medical personnel need access to the proper broadband infrastructure. Only by doing so can an adequate level of service be guaranteed. 

It is also necessary that users have the right software tools and telemedicine equipment. For example, it is not enough to have a regular video conference app in many cases. Specialized software is needed to provide the best possible remote clinical service. 

Use Cases of Telemedicine Services

There are several types of services provided by telemedicine. These are some of the most common. 

  • Telemonitoring: Doctors can help patients take care of themselves using special devices. Patients learn how to use them after receiving guidance and can track their chronic conditions like blood pressure, etc. Although this poses some risks, it is very convenient for most patients that do not require a visit to the doctor. Plus, remote patient monitoring allows primary care physicians to monitor the condition of their patients without using a valuable hospital bed or holding them overnight.
  • Real-Time Services: Having the ability to check for symptoms, provide therapy, and diagnose patients at any time is very popular with patients and providers. Through powerful MedTech apps, a healthcare professional can retrieve information and let patients know what to do in case a problem arises. Patients can speak with their provider about how they are feeling mentally and physically and report on the effectiveness of treatments. A telemedicine appointment offers providers a whole new way to treat patients. 
  • Telementoring: This is particularly useful for faraway rural areas. In these places, there might not be a specific specialist. Generally, some general practitioners serve an entire area. If a specialty is required, doctors in these areas can consult specialists regarding a specific treatment for a patient. If a doctor is not familiar with an ailment, they can learn the fundamentals from a reliable source. 
  • Analyze Medical Data: Patient data can be easily shared with doctors and academic research institutions through secure platforms that guarantee privacy. Special HIPAA compliant software platforms ensure that information is secured and compliant with federal regulations. The security of personal data is one of the most important aspects to consider regarding telemedicine. However, transmitting and analyzing data quickly could be the difference between life and death for certain patients. 
  • Emergency Services: Sometimes, patients can’t visit the closest healthcare provider during an emergency. Attending emergencies through telemedicine helps solve this problem. Emergency telemedicine services can help people limit the damage from an accident or care for someone while waiting for emergency services.
  • Trustworthy Health Information: Misinformation is a growing problem for many healthcare providers. Patients prefer easy access to information, and the Internet is rife with medical information that may be incorrect, misleading, or simply misinterpreted by people. A telemedicine appointment can help providers address this issue by providing patients with reliable information sources and answering questions or concerns that may pop up. 
  • Behavioral Health: Wellness professionals can use telemedicine systems to help patients improve their behavior and develop healthy habits. Mental health is something society has begun to take a lot more seriously. It can be difficult to find mental health services, or it can be difficult for people to go visit a therapist. Telemedicine makes it simpler for people to find a therapist, but it also makes it easier for people to see a therapist. For example, shy or nervous people don’t have to have their cameras on. 

The Pros and Cons of Telemedicine

Now that you have a better idea of telemedicine’s different use cases, it is important to fully understand the pros and cons. Telemedicine has a lot of potential and should offer patients and providers alike hope. However, as great as this technology is, if used improperly, it can lead to medical blind spots and poor care. Telemedicine will never replace an in-person visit, but it can be used to augment the patient care experience and offer real-time services. 

Keeping this in mind, let’s explore the pros and cons of telemedicine. 

Pros

Here are some of the benefits of telemedicine. 

  • Cost savings and increased efficiency thanks to improved medical resource allocation and reduced in-person visits. Reducing healthcare service costs is a major concern for many patients. 
  • Risk mitigation due to reduced contact with medical facilities. Patients can stay in their houses, reducing the risk of contagion or other ailments. (The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated just how important this is.)
  • Patients can get their information faster as the doctor has increased availability
  • Increased flexibility for patients and doctors as systems are redesigned to take full advantage of the power of telecommunications. 
  • A patient-centered approach that focuses on providing a great User Experience
  • Improved access to healthcare providers in rural or remote areas.
  • Convenience for patients who suffer from chronic illnesses and cannot easily move from one place to another.
  • Reduced need for a waiting room, helping reallocate the space to patients who need medical facilities. 

Cons

There are also some negative aspects of telemedicine that need to be taken into consideration too, including:

  • Regulation is necessary, but it can slow down the pace of innovation and the implementation of new technologies. Currently, there is little regulation beyond HIPAA privacy requirements. Providers and lawmakers need to work together to create regulations that don’t discourage innovation.
  • Infrastructure, particularly broadband and Internet connection, needs to be robust enough to guarantee a good service. While people in rural areas might benefit from remote services, they are also more likely to have less access to reliable Internet services. 
  • Some people may have difficulties accessing their apps. Working with someone who knows how to develop software correctly is necessary. 
  • Many patients will be dubious at first to try out virtual care and virtual visits as the default health care service standard. Demonstrating the value of virtual care will be the responsibility of each practice that adopts telemedicine. 
  • When it comes to physical examination, there are still some limitations. Virtual care will never be able to offer the same level of care or detail as physical exams. 

Final Thoughts on Telemedicine Apps

The telemedicine industry is growing and will help medical institutions serve more patients, improve patient outcomes, and cut healthcare costs. As a result, it is a legitimate business interest for the medical industry, from hospitals to insurance companies. 

A key success factor of a great telemedicine consultation strategy for the medical industry is the quality of the software used. Having easy-to-use telemedicine apps that focus on patient care experience is necessary to guarantee quality healthcare services. Failing to do so may result in money being wasted on expensive and ineffective solutions.

One of the best things to guarantee the success of any type of telemedicine app is to work with a qualified app development partner who understands both the importance of medical services and personal data use through HIPAA compliance requirements. 

For medical apps, product development that ensures security and personal data privacy is a must. This will guarantee that the necessary technical aspects are considered and that User Experience is addressed. Hopefully, this post has helped you understand the pros and cons of telemedicine in greater detail as you weigh whether this technology is right for your practice. 

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