Telemedicine/Benefits and Drawbacks
Benefits and drawbacksEdit
Telemedicine can be beneficial to patients in isolated communities and remote regions, who can receive care from doctors or specialists far away without the patient having to travel to visit them. Recent developments in mobile collaboration technology can allow healthcare professionals in multiple locations to share information and discuss patient issues as if they were in the same place. Remote patient monitoring through mobile technology can reduce the need for outpatient visits and enable remote prescription verification and drug administration oversight, potentially significantly reducing the overall cost of medical care. Telemedicine can also facilitate medical education by allowing workers to observe experts in their fields and share best practices more easily.
Telemedicine also can eliminate the possible transmission of infectious diseases or parasites between patients and medical staff. This is particularly an issue where MRSA is a concern. Additionally, some patients who feel uncomfortable in a doctors office may do better remotely. For example, white coat syndrome may be avoided. Patients who are home-bound and would otherwise require an ambulance to move them to a clinic are also a consideration.
The downsides of telemedicine include the cost of telecommunication and data management equipment and of technical training for medical personnel who will employ it. Virtual medical treatment also entails potentially decreased human interaction between medical professionals and patients, an increased risk of error when medical services are delivered in the absence of a registered professional, and an increased risk that protected health information may be compromised through electronic storage and transmission. There is also a concern that telemedicine may actually decrease time efficiency due to the difficulties of assessing and treating patients through virtual interactions; for example, it has been estimated that a teledermatology consultation can take up to thirty minutes, whereas fifteen minutes is typical for a traditional consultation. Additionally, potentially poor quality of transmitted records, such as images or patient progress reports, and decreased access to relevant clinical information are quality assurance risks that can compromise the quality and continuity of patient care for the reporting doctor. Other obstacles to the implementation of telemedicine include unclear legal regulation for some telemedical practices and difficulty claiming reimbursement from insurers or government programs in some fields.
Another disadvantage of telemedicine is the inability to start treatment immediately. For example, a patient suffering from a bacterial infection might be given an antibiotic hypodermic injection in the clinic, and observed for any reaction, before that antibiotic is prescribed in pill form.
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