The Challenges and Benefits of Telemedicine and Virtual Care
The medical world has recently witnessed an increased interest in the use of telemedicine and virtual care. The recent pandemic, COVID-19, is one of the major phenomena that has seen the rapid development and usage of telemedicine and virtual care. The need for retaining social and clinical contact while still maintaining social distance has conveniently allowed telemedicine and virtual care to benefit doctors, and patients alike.
Medical care practitioners have embraced advanced technology in offering services like virtual consultations and remote monitoring, among other healthcare services, to patients. Telemedicine and virtual care technology have had huge benefits, but also, the technology has had its fair share of drawbacks. This post will delve deeper into the benefits and challenges of telemedicine and virtual care.
Benefits of Telemedicine and Virtual Care
1. Unlimited Access to Medical Care.
Unlimited access to medical care for patients, regardless of where they are, is one of the most significant benefits of telemedicine and virtual care. Patients worldwide can get health care services from a real medical facility or clinic.
They can conveniently connect with a healthcare practitioner and get treatment through internet-connected devices like phones, computers, and tablets. The method saves a lot of traveling time and money and is especially suitable for patients far from hospitals and clinics and those living in isolated places.
2. Reducing the Risk of Infections.
Close contact with patients suffering from various airborne diseases increases the risk of infections. However, with telemedicine and virtual care, there are no chances of infections. Covid-19 was, and still is, one of the diseases spread from one person to another through contact. Telemedicine and Virtual care became very useful in reducing Covid-19 infections as patients would get care services without contacting other patients, healthcare facilities, and healthcare givers.
People suffering from infectious illnesses and those at high risk for infections easily get medical care from the convenience of their homes without putting other people in danger. Moreover, medical practitioners have a low risk of contracting infectious diseases when using telemedicine and virtual care.
3. Enhanced Healthcare Education and Participation.
Another crucial advantage of telemedicine and virtual care is the influence patients have over their health wellness, thanks to virtual consultation. The people seeking medical care are enabled to access their medical reports, personalized guidance, and the benefit of having a question-and-answer session with their doctors. Virtual treatment enhances patient education and participation thereby improving their health outcomes.
4. Attending Medical Conferences
Health practitioners’ professional growth and ability to obtain new emerging service delivery skills depend on continuous attendance at medical conferences. Initially, medical conferences were majorly physical and needed health professionals to travel to the exact conference locations.
However, doctors can subscribe to online medical conferences offered by websites like Coat Connect from the comfort of their offices, working stations, and homes. The important elements of online medical conferences include reduced travel expenses, flexibility in scheduling, and keeping abreast with recent trends and dynamics in healthcare without having to travel a lot.
Challenges of Telemedicine and Virtual Care
1. Lack of Physical Check and Examination.
Physical examination provides a better understanding of the illness by the healthcare professional and can be done during in-patient discussions. The physical checkup can be very helpful in identifying some illnesses that virtual consultations may not be able to achieve, as it may be limited to what level of consultation it can offer.
2. Patient Data Privacy and Security
The privacy of medical records and sensitive patient information can be highly compromised. More often than not, in online medical discussions between patients and their medical caregivers, private medical data is shared. The consultations take place in a medium that can have illegal and unwanted access and therefore puts the sensitive data at risk of being misused.
Crucially, medical and treatment online service providers have a duty to ensure that their systems are well backed up and are at no risk of being accessed by third-party agents. Also, telemedicine service providers must make sure that they strictly follow the laws governing data privacy and online information security.
3. Challenges of Offering Urgent Healthcare Services
Telemedicine and virtual care present a significant obstacle in offering emergency health services through online or virtual care services. There is a need to have physical examinations and provide prompt health care advice in emergencies by doctors, which may prove difficult through a virtual consultation. Additionally, individuals cannot sufficiently talk about their symptoms, resulting in delayed results and incorrect diagnoses.
4. Poor Connectivity and Poor Technical Infrastructure.
Telemedicine uses fast internet, telemedicine video conferencing software, and others. Places with a poor internet connection or inadequate technological infrastructure make it difficult to have a successful consultation and treatment.