When they say that the Internet provides unlimited possibilities for the modern human race, it encompasses practically all aspects of life, healthcare included.
Telemedicine or the application of information technologies in providing or accessing healthcare is just one of the fruits of the Internet. It bridges the gap between patient and healthcare provider, making medical services readily available particularly to those remote from healthcare facilities.
At the onset, telemedicine provides a quick and easy solution for far-flung patients, but there are always two sides to a coin, so here we discuss the primary pros and cons of telemedicine.
List of Pros of Telemedicine
1. Telemedicine is very convenient to use.
Telemedicine is much like online shopping wherein the patient obtains medical services right at the comforts of their own home or office, with just a few clicks of the mouse. There is no need to get mobile and head down to the nearest clinic or hospital, which may not be that near, by the way. It is great for patients with less mobility and less access to medical facility.
2. It promotes safety and privacy.
Privacy is an utmost concern in medical service, and since the patient can “see” the physician in their private space, telemedicine promotes a safe and private way of getting checkup or treatment.
3. It offers speedy delivery of medical services.
Again the distance between patient and healthcare provider is no longer a question with telemedicine. As long as both have reliable Internet-based equipment for communicating with each other, there is assurance to the delivery of medical service.
4. It is relatively more economical than brick-and-mortar healthcare.
Online communication is more practical and more economical than transporting a patient to the nearest healthcare facility for a checkup and minor treatment. If it is possible for the patient to obtain the much-needed care via online, then a few minutes of virtual correspondence does not cost as much as seeing the doctor in person.
5. It allows patients access to multiple medical opinions in a few clicks.
Setting doctor appointment and waiting in line are just some of the problems with regular checkups, heightened with the need to seek several medical opinions. With telemedicine, the patient can consult several doctors simultaneously or within a few minutes interval, no waiting time.
List of Cons of Telemedicine
1. There is a high risk of misdiagnosis.
There is a valid reason why doctors and patients must physically meet – this is to ensure that doctors can perform physical examination, which includes direct contact with the patient to feel or hear the goings-on with the patients’ body. With telemedicine, doctors have to rely on what patients disclose to them during online consultation.
2. It is technology-reliant and becomes ineffective during glitches.
No matter how advance or innovative technology may be, it is never perfect. Because telemedicine is heavily reliant on technology, it is subject to its imperfections, which can cost the lives of patients and/or careers of doctors involved.
3. It is subject to hacking concerns.
Again, cyber crime is rampant, and many people prey on the vulnerability of other Internet users. Since medical correspondence contains dangerously confidential data, it is prone to hacking, especially if it involves high-profile personalities.
4. It has grave limitations in terms of providing sufficient treatment.
Telemedicine may be effective in providing routine checkups and medical opinions, but proper administration of drugs, rehabilitative care and other more serious medical procedures cannot be done virtually. Patients with grave medical concerns really need to be mobilized to a healthcare facility for proper care.
5. It cannot service patients without access to the Internet.
As mentioned, both patients and healthcare providers need to have reliable tools to communicate. While medical institutions and physicians may have access to such technology, some patients or households do not, and this causes problems in telemedicine.