The news of telemedicine now in high calls around the U.S.A in some shape, form or fashion. It is the process of seeking care from a medical provider using your phone or laptop. This drives in with a package of potential risks to patients that are not commonly discussed. Get updated on this new technology to make a decision.
The most common form of telemedicine is online “virtual” appointments that involves using a webcam connected to a medical provider associated a medical group making it the safest form of telemedicine, in my opinion- as the medical provider chatting with the patient will have access to your medical records and can recommend for a real-life visit if concerns cannot be evaluated in a virtual environment. Second, how good the technology might be, online meetings lose nonverbal communication. These visits are great for counselling and simple medication for pre-existing conditions (e.g., hypertension or diabetes).
The next type involves remote medical visits offered by private telemedicine companies, many of which are found online basically not associated with specific health systems. Before you use this form of telemedicine, understand some limitations and potential risks of the technology
1. Geography: in cases of a patient located in one state and the virtual provider is based in another it is difficult to file a grievance (or even a malpractice claim because standards are not yet set for physicians giving medical advice virtually or across state lines
2. Malpractice: it involves high complexity with the technological effects of telemedicine like bad audio connection, slow connection, poor visibility making it difficult to the practisers to inspect as well as a high risk for patients if prescribed wrong.
3. Standard of care: clearly established standards of care for in-person visits in each state is made available but few states haven’t so far- That’s concerning for both physician and patient.
4. Data breaches. There is a risk of a data breach with any internet-based service which will have direct and a false impact on both the physician as well as the patient.
5. Fraud and abuse: clear guidelines are established for in-person evaluations but not yet for telemedicine. Ensuring the virtual provider is a credential or not is a great problem that cannot be neglected.
I would like to summarize that it would be safest to avoid using most telemedicine services until the above issues are sorted out. A virtual visit with your established doctor or medical practice is always economical and time-saving. This would better off heading to PCP’s office or an urgent care centre to be evaluated by a human but for now, your Phone can’t safely duplicate it.