Telemedicine advantages: A COVID inspired update
Written by Leann Poston M.D.
How many times in the past seven months have you considered making a doctor’s appointment for either you or a family member and paused or put it off because of concerns about exposure to COVID in the physician’s office or waiting room? Just last year, telemedicine was only approved for certain situations and specific types of healthcare visits. Now it is everywhere and becoming the new norm. The COVID pandemic has highlighted the advantages of telemedicine, and most users do not want to return to a healthcare system that does not offer it as an option.
Granted, certain things cannot be done by telemedicine. A healthcare provider cannot physically examine you and you certainly cannot receive emergency care in a life-threatening situation, but how often is that needed?
For routine visits, repetitive issues, questions, and situations in which a physical exam does not provide any additional input to decision making, telemedicine has many benefits and very few drawbacks. Invigor Medical recognizes the limits of telemedicine and encourages you to consult with your primary care provider prior to requesting services.
Telemedicine involves the diagnosis and treatment of patients through telecommunications technology. —Medscape
According to Medscape (n.d), in a 2019 survey, 66% of consumers said they were willing to use telemedicine and 70% of employers said they were currently offering or planning to offer telehealth coverage for employees.
The benefits of telemedicine
Telemedicine improves the quality of healthcare. It increases both access and efficiency by reducing the need to travel. It provides greater access to those with barriers such as travel difficulties, poor health, and physical disabilities, which make travel challenging (Alvandi, 2017). Telemedicine makes it possible for seniors to stay in their homes longer and feel more connected to health care providers. Telestroke, telecardiology, teledermatology, telepediatrics, telepsychiatry, and teleneonatology care combine telemedicine for care visits with complex sensors and monitors.
Telemedicine makes it possible for patients to be more engaged and assume greater responsibility in their healthcare, seek healthcare earlier in a disease process, keep follow-up appointments, and maintain accurate and complete medical records.
The advantages of telemedicine
Most people who try telemedicine are surprised. They report more time spent with their health care provider, the ability to ask more questions, and a feeling of partnership that may be missing in a medical office where they may feel at a disadvantage. There are many other advantages to telemedicine.
Some of the benefit cited by patients/clients include:
- Easy access- no transportation costs
- No need to take off work
- Convenient scheduling options
- Access to specialists such as practitioners who regularly prescribe peptides and other preventative healthcare options
- Less time in the waiting room
- Decreased stress
- Flexible hours
- Easy to make follow-up appointments
- Supports the provider-client relationship
- No worry about getting an infection from someone else
- No need to find someone to provide child or elder care
- Improves continuity of care
- Reduces readmission rates to hospital
COVID brought about a revolution in healthcare that would not have been possible without it. Insurance companies that may have been slowly moving towards telemedicine were pushed because their enrollees needed safe, fast access to medical care. A sudden need is commonly the driving force for a revolution in access or technology, but the advantages of telemedicine are what will keep people from wanting to go back to a medical care system that did not include the option for telemedicine appointments.
Telemedicine advantages to look for in a provider
When choosing to use telemedicine you should check to ensure that you know:
- How much the service costs, and whether it is covered under your insurance.
- Whether you have access to medical records and how they are stored and maintained.
- How the privacy, security, and confidentiality of medical information will be kept. Verify who will have access to your medical records and why they will have access.
- How HIPAA laws are designed to protect your privacy. Ensure that your telemedicine provider is well versed in HIPAA laws and has mechanisms in place to protect the security of your health and financial information.
- Check the quality of the electronic devices used. Ensure you will have access to the connection options available, whether phone or internet. Will you be able to see and hear the provider during the medical visit clearly?
- The limits of telemedicine as far as diagnoses that can be treated.
Invigor Medical: A premier telehealth provider
Your information is safe and secure as Invigor Medical uses a secure Sockets Protocol (SSL), which encrypts all financial information. It ensures that its security policies meet HIPAA compliant security standards.
Pre-COVID many people had not even considered telemedicine. Post-COVID, telemedicine is becoming a standard of care as users seek a more convenient and personal conversation with their health care provider. The pandemic brought about a revolution in health care access — telemedicine with its myriad benefits and advantages.
- Alvandi, M. (2017). Telemedicine and its role in revolutionizing healthcare delivery. AJMC. Retrieved from https://www.ajmc.com/view/telemedicine-and-its-role-in-revolutionizing-healthcare-delivery
- Medscape. (n.d.) What is telemedicine? Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/courses/section/921359