In general, telehealth is a huge benefit to the healthcare industry. From expanding access to patient care to hosting large meetings or attending medical training from anywhere, telehealth can improve the healthcare delivery model.
However, it is still important to look at the cons, which naturally occur due to technological barriers and social acceptance. Fortunately, as technology continues to advance, and the population with access to mobile devices and video call software only increasing, many of these cons will resolve themselves over time.
Pros of Telehealth
- Telehealth can remove geographical barriers by providing those who live in rural areas, have mobility issues, are too ill to leave the house or third-world countries much more accessible care by allowing patients to speak to a doctor from their own home.
- Telehealth is already accessible to most people in the form of their video-enabled smartphones, desktops, laptops, or tablets.
- By eliminating the need for patients with contagious infections to visit their GP in person, you can massively reduce the spread of infections to other patients and staff.
- Physicians are able to see even more patients, reducing waiting times.
- Patients are much less likely to not turn up to appointments as telehealth is much more convenient to a busy lifestyle. In turn, this could save the healthcare industry a lot of money wasted on patients not turning up to their appointments.
- Reduce the need to travel by allowing healthcare professionals to attend MDT or cross-site trust meetings over a video call.
- Connect with specialists anywhere in the world.
- Provide better quality patient care by enhancing your ability to monitor and check in with patients remotely and even provide physiotherapy over a video call.
- Translators can be linked to remotely translate to patients, which could speed up the diagnosis process.
Cons of Telehealth
- When new technology is introduced, it usually requires equipment purchases and then training to ensure you get the most out of your purchase. Particularly if you are going to be dependent on the solution being put in place. This can be time-consuming at first and depending on what equipment is needed, it could cost a lot of money. However, many telehealth solutions are now available via an app, only need a decent quality camera and require much less training as they are designed to be as simple to use as possible.
- Some telehealth solutions are designed to be sold to the patient, so they go on an app and pay for an appointment with a doctor they don’t know. While this is efficient, many patients benefit from seeing their doctor who knows them and their medical history, and in countries such as the UK where healthcare is free, it’s important for the healthcare industry to keep up with advancing technology to provide telehealth solutions.
- Patients may fear misdiagnosis due to this being a fairly new service. While people fear change, misdiagnosis can happen whether someone is in the doctor’s office or their own living room. It’s important to remember telehealth is meant to supplement in-person visits not completely replace them. There are times when certain problems require an in-person visit and a doctor will ask to see the patient if they have any concerns.