Telemedicine comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, and weighing these can help you decide if it’s time to set up telemedicine services for your practice or not. With a majority of American households now equipped with smartphones, tablets, and internet access, it would seem that we’re finally ready for widespread telehealth growth. But there are still many people who are wary of telemedicine and virtual access, patients and doctors alike.
In this article, we’ve compiled the top pros and cons of telemedicine as a healthcare provider. Understanding the various advantages and disadvantages will help you in deciding if telehealth is right for you, and whether you are ready to adopt the telehealth access solutions that thousands of providers offer today.
Pros of Telemedicine
Greater Patient Reach
Expanding your existing patient base is beneficial for both your practice and your patients: more people can access the care they need, and your team can access the patients you need to grow and expand. And one of the greatest advantages of telemedicine is reaching out to more patients you wouldn’t normally be able to care for and treat.
Patients who may be stuck at home and patients who have to travel far from rural or remote areas to access care can now be treated by your team. Primary care, medical education, specialist referrals, consumer patient education, and remote patient monitoring can all be successfully performed with virtual appointments.
Save on Costs and Time
Save time and costs on both ends by freeing up the in-office visits and turning them into visits that can be performed from the doctor’s and the patient’s living rooms. One study found that the wait and duration of a doctor’s visit costs an average of $43 for a patient in lost time.
Giving your patients the freedom to choose a virtual visit is an offer that most patients can’t refuse. And turning a majority of your patient meetings into virtual meetings saves you the extra overhead costs as well. This drives down late appointment rates and no-show rates, giving you a clearer and more streamlined overall schedule.
Quicker and Easier Patient Communication
Doctor visits are generally reserved for times when patients feel they have bigger issues that require access to professional care. But there are many cases when a patient won’t make the effort of going to the doctor because they don’t feel that their issue warrants a doctor’s visit, even if it does.
With virtual care through calls and email access, patients are more comfortable engaging with doctors even for minor issues that might not be so minor. For example, if a patient has concerns about their treatment plan or wants to know more about a certain medication, telehealth services allow them to get in touch with their doctor in a professional manner and learn what they need to know.
As discussed above, urgent and real-time consultation is crucial for providing the best patient care continuity. Healthcare providers can save their patients expensive, unnecessary trips to the emergency room with real-time telemedicine appointments that can provide them the consultation they need.
With the access convenience and ease on both ends – for both patients and healthcare providers – patient engagement rates generally rise once a practice starts offering telehealth solutions. The access barriers that stop patients from seeking care are eliminated, and patients can more comfortably engage with their doctor.
Finally, as a doctor you will be able to more effectively access and treat your patients who might wait years for a diagnosis on an issue that can be diagnosed in minutes. With increased access and a more flexible schedule, telehealth opens up treatment possibilities for thousands of patients with video access and email.
Cons of Telemedicine
Frustrating Regulations and Barriers
Like all specializations in the healthcare world, telemedicine regulations can be frustrating and confusing, with regulations unique to each state. Adding access to telemedicine services and dealing with the onrush of new and unfamiliar regulations can be a headache many doctors simply do not want to deal with.
There is also the issue with privacy concerns as you access and use telemedicine equipment, with questionable telemedicine software and tools. If you do not adopt the right equipment and technology, you risk putting your practice in danger of hackers and legal issues.
Specialized Technology and Equipment
While it might seem like all you need is a smartphone or a tablet to help patients in rural areas access you with virtual visits, this isn’t always the case. The specialty technology and equipment for your telehealth services depends on the level of access and service you wish to provide.
Whether it’s therapy appointments, post-operative care, chronic patient monitoring, or other remote health services, the hardware and software to access and perform these properly can be costly and might require additional IT staff, specialized technical training, and additional equipment such as your own servers to avoid technical problems that might lead to reduced care continuity.
It is important to remember that virtual doctor appointments are still limited by the non-physical nature of the meetings. While live video conferencing is easier than ever before, they aren’t always enough to make a proper diagnosis that you can be sure about.
There are many doctors who are uncomfortable with making a diagnosis on issues they can’t see and touch in-person. Unless you have the training and are comfortable with making online diagnoses, you might find yourself having difficulty with virtual appointments.
Possible Office Reshuffle
Whether you are transitioning to a full telemedicine practice for maximized access or simply adding telemedicine services to your offerings, there may be a required office reshuffle. You might need fewer nurses – with a nurse seeing an average 7 in-office patients per day as opposed to 33 virtual patients per day – and more IT staff, requiring more than just equipment and technology implementation, but an entire overhaul of your clinic staff.
Overall: Is Telemedicine Worth It?
Many doctors might still be reluctant to add telemedicine services to what they do, but studies show that clinics who adopt telemedicine programs properly grow significantly with their new virtual care services.
The most difficult aspect of launching a telehealth program is in the initial set-up. But once that is complete, many physicians find their workload much more manageable than before, with more patients treated and greater profits coming into the practice. Telemedicine is the future of healthcare; the sooner you adopt it, the better it will be for your practice.
Market Your Telemedicine Solution with PracticeBloom
PracticeBloom is the leading healthcare marketing team in the country, and we can help you market your telemedicine services to your ideal audience. Website development, content creation, targeted online ad campaigns, and reputation and social media management: with PracticeBloom’s tried and trusted ProfitEngines program, we can boost your telemedicine program in no time.
Contact us today through phone or email to find out more. Thousands of providers have adopted telehealth to maximize their access – it’s time to learn more today.
Continue reading: Successful Telemedicine Examples: What to Learn from Them