The need for healthcare is ever-increasing. However, the infrastructure surrounding healthcare is yet to catch up with the demands. One of the biggest challenges is the complete reliance on in-person healthcare facilities. However, things have changed because of technology. 60% of healthcare organizations have started introducing IoT into their facilities.
Welfare technology has changed how patients receive healthcare due to telemedicine. Thanks to the wide accessibility of the internet, computers, and smartphones, doctors can now diagnose and care for their patients virtually. However, like any service, telehealth has its own pros and cons.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is the process of delivering healthcare services with the help of technology. It typically involves the use of technology for a number of purposes. It can range from regular consultations to tracking the patients’ vitals. There are many types of telehealth, but the three most common ones are:
- When the doctor is communicating with the patient in real-time through a computer or telephone, it is known as ‘synchronous telehealth.’
- On the other hand, if you record data, images, or videos to share with the doctor later, it is known as ‘asynchronous telehealth.’
- The last form of telehealth is known as ‘remote patient monitoring.’ This is when you send patient vitals for the healthcare provider to monitor them.
Pros of Telehealth
Convenience and Accessibility
74% of patients prefer easy access to healthcare services over in-person interactions with providers. Just think about all the times you’ve had to go to a doctor for a consultation.
You’d have to find the appointment, then you might have to take the day off from work and then go to their clinic, just to get an initial consultation. All these barriers have now been removed thanks to telehealth.
Similarly, if a patient suffers from a chronic disease and cannot visit the hospital or clinic often, telemedicine is quite useful for regular checkups and follow-ups.
One of the biggest challenges in the field of healthcare is to keep the patient engaged. Let’s consider a scenario here. Mr. Sharma is experiencing light chest pain and fatigue. His family members ask him to visit a doctor to get it checked. However, he dismisses it as he feels like it’s not a big deal and he’ll have to go through many hassles just to visit his doctor.
Does this sound familiar to you? It’s because cases like this are all around us. Thanks to telehealth, Mr. Sharma can simply make a video call and relay his symptoms to his doctor who can then advise him on the next steps.
One of the biggest advantages of telehealth is the increased engagement that comes from accessibility. Most patients delay their follow-ups or checkups just because it is too much effort. This increased engagement can help with the early diagnosis of a condition, thus saving lives.
Similarly, the virtual care and availability of healthcare providers assure patients that they’re involved in their care. A huge reason behind this is that healthcare providers are only a call away, thus making the overall healthcare process much easier.
Cons of Telehealth
Virtual care is limited to preliminary consultations and follow-ups. For instance, a doctor cannot physically conduct any checks on you during a virtual consultation or run tests right away. While telehealth is enough for minor consultations, it cannot replace the need and reliability of traditional in-person consultations.
Lack of Continuity
One of the most common methods of availing telehealth is through an online platform that connects you to practitioners. In most cases, you are connected to a random healthcare provider. In such a scenario, they do not have your medical history available.
The lack of care continuity can affect the quality of care provided. In most cases, incomplete medical history can also result in misdiagnosis, thus severely affecting the outcome of the consultation. When it comes to healthcare, you cannot overlook the importance of continuity.
Another thing to consider is that patients feel more comfortable with a particular doctor that they’ve worked with before. On the other hand, if they have to refer to a new doctor every time, there is a scope of unfamiliarity which prevents them from sharing their medical history time and again.
Lack of Coverage
Since telehealth is a relatively new concept, many health insurance companies are yet to warm up to it.
For instance, many healthcare providers do not cover telehealth under their policies. Hence, if you want to ensure that you get the benefits of telehealth, you should consider opting for a comprehensive health insurance plan.
While telehealth has many advantages, it also has certain drawbacks that affect its acceptability. That being said, telehealth has laid out what the future of medicine will look like, especially as the internet becomes more and more accessible.
While it is not going to replace traditional healthcare systems anytime soon, it is certainly going to change the world of alternate healthcare. This is why it’s important to choose a health insurance plan that’s future-ready. Plum offers a comprehensive health insurance plan that covers everything from video consultations, home healthcare to mental illness treatments.