We all know that going to see the doctor can be a major source of hassle; unfortunately, many of us put it off because it seems like such an ordeal. We all know that can be a serious mistake, but we’re all guilty of it at some point or another in our lives. If you live far away from your doctor, then this can compound the problem, making what should be a simple, routine trip into something far more time-consuming and stressful. Add in specialists to the mix, or a number of follow-up visits, and having something wrong with you can seriously drain your resources and time.
Telemedicine is here to change all that. Although it might sound like a new program, it’s actually a few decades old, though has been gaining traction recently due to the acceleration of digital technology. When it was first introduced, it was utilized to help patients who had no access to a doctor receive the medical support they needed. This was originally done via means of a telephone, hence the moniker “telemedicine.” For the next few decades, telemedicine remained an outlier service, which was useful in small amounts to a select group of people. In recent times, however, the technology has advanced to a point where telemedicine can benefit everyone in the healthcare system; in fact, the telemedicine revolution has already begun, and as digital technology develops further, the movement will continue to ascend.
So what are the main differences between online consultation vs. in-person consultation? Well, for starters, patients aren’t just limited to phones anymore. There are a large number of digital devices that can be utilized for telemedicinal practices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs, as well as a huge number of telemedicine apps that aid and assist patients and doctors alike. As it stands in 2018, these all fall under the ever-expanding umbrella of “telemedicine.” The major concern most people would have is that if you’re doctor isn’t physically looking at you, how can you be sure he’s going to catch all the symptoms you might be presenting? You would essentially be relying on your own communication skills to explain your symptoms to the doctor, which might not be the best course of action.
In fact, research into online consultation vs. in-person consultation has shown that this is not the case. A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that for certain cases of routine, common illnesses such as flu and sinusitis, consulting with an online doctor could be just as effective as visiting one physically. In fact, some patients with routine conditions were able to get diagnoses from their healthcare physicians by simply updating their symptoms via their online profile. The only marked differentiation between online consultation vs. in-person consultation was a slight increase in the number of antibiotics prescribed via telemedicine. So the research proves that telemedicine is just as effective in the early stages of a condition, and if that condition proves to be a minor, common one, treatment can proceed in exactly the same beneficial manner as it would with a person-to-person doctor visit. The only variable is that both the patient, and the doctor, have saved a serious amount of time.
It’s not just time that patients can save. A recent study in the widely-respected Health Affairs journal reviewed the effectiveness of a particular online clinic, examining over 40,000 cases, and came to the conclusion that this particular online clinic reduced patient’s costs by an average of $88, when compared to an in-person consultation. Furthermore, 98% of the patients said they would recommend the service to others. Telemedicine isn’t just about physical visits to doctors, however; many people use the service to purchase prescriptions or progressive medical treatments, which again saves them time and money. Patients can visit sites like MMJ Recs or Dr. Handicap to avail of medical marijuana identification cards and handicap parking permits respectively. These things matter a great deal in the lives of those who need them, so being able to access them through telemedicine is a real gift.
Ultimately, the goal of telemedicine is to provide a better form of healthcare to those who need it. The program results in fast diagnoses and increased supervision, costs the patients less money, and saves both patients and medical staff time, which is a valuable commodity in the face of a burgeoning healthcare system. Some people will initially be distrustful of not seeing their doctor in-person, but the studies show that an online consultation is no different from an in-person visit in terms of treating the most common illnesses. So the next time you feel phased about going to the doctor’s office, why not hop online and give telemedicine a try? In today’s instantaneous, digital-led world, it’s most definitely part of the future of healthcare; so jump on that train now to be ahead of the curve, and find yourself healthier as a result.