When most people think of going to the doctor they worry about finding the time, how to manage transportation, the wait time once they arrive, and the overall inconvenience of the process. Telemedicine has the potential to revolutionize the way people perceive and obtain medical care.
The internet has made instantaneous communication possible for several decades but it is only within the last several years that video conferencing and file sharing have become easy enough to facilitate online medical appointments. While it isn’t possible for a virtual appointment to accomplish all of the issues an in-person visit would, it does make it possible to treat a wide variety of conditions from sinus infection diagnosis to sore throats.
Better for Patients
One of the most obvious benefits for patients is the ability to be seen quickly and without having to rearrange a busy schedule. This is especially valuable for those who live in remote areas where a doctor’s visit can require an hour drive each way plus wait times. Anyone with a tight schedule, or who has other people they care for, knows how tempting it can be to ignore a personal health problem due to a basic lack of time. Virtual doctor’s appointments make it far easier to make one’s health a priority.
Another benefit for patients is the virtual waiting room. While there may still be a wait time between the appointment and the actual consultation, the virtual waiting room is not filled with other people who could potentially make you sick. One of the most common complaints from patients is becoming sick with something new after their doctor’s visit. This is especially true for patients who have something fairly routine like a urinary tract infection who visit the doctor only to walk away with the flu.
Better for Doctors
Virtual appointments are also better for doctors in many ways. They have an opportunity to spend more time getting to know their patient because there is less wasted time going between rooms. This is one of the most often cited reasons by both patients and doctors as to why they believe in the power of telemedicine.
Flexibility is another boon to physicians. Many doctors are pressed to see a certain number of patients each day or each week. This can create a significant amount of stress and prevent them from taking adequate time for their own self-care needs. With the ability to treat patients remotely, they are able to see more patients during a wider variety of hours that give them the flexibility they need to attend to personal matters. When doctors are less stressed and getting adequate amounts of sleep, their performance is better.
The medical community is a long way from being able to offer medical care for every conceivable condition. Emergencies will continue to happen that require hands-on care. However, a large percentage of health issues can be resolved before they require urgent medical care if patients have the ability to be seen easily.
Virtual doctor’s appointments are expected to have doubled between 2015 and 2020. This option allows doctors to see patients who may need to be referred to an in-person visit who would have otherwise dismissed their condition and not sought medical care until the problem was much worse and more difficult to treat. The future of medical care is increased flexibility for both patients and doctors which will ultimately lead to better care for more people.