What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Telehealth?

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Recently, we've seen the accelerated adoption of new and innovative solutions to manage patient care. Most notably, telehealth solutions have become an integrated part of mainstream healthcare.

With its popularity growing, it's worth considering the pros and cons of implementing this emerging technology within your practice. 

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth or Telemedicine involves using technology to engage, monitor, diagnose, and treat patients. It brings medical professionals closer to patients than ever before, allowing for better healthcare outcomes and increased access to services.

Through technology like video consultations, online information platforms, and remote patient monitoring, clinicians can connect with patients without needing them to be physically at the practice. Fostering patient and clinician interactions from afar, which can improve patient satisfaction. 

However, telehealth has its advantages and disadvantages, with some providers remaining doubtful about its effectiveness.

So, should your practice invest in telehealth?

Here are some of the key benefits and potential shortcomings, so you can decide whether its right for you. 

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The Advantages of Telehealth

Telehealth is a great option for those that have trouble attending your practice in person. It also provides a flexible method of giving and receiving treatment, making it accessible for both patients and healthcare providers. 

Better Patient Outcomes

The ability to check in with patients remotely leads to better adherence to treatments and boosts overall satisfaction rates. This is because increased online patient involvement can result in a 90% satisfaction rate for both patients and doctors. This helps to prevent repeat hospital visits and ensures patients stay healthy. 

Also, if patients have any questions, queries, or need more information about their treatment, a telehealth solution lets them quickly contact their doctor and get the guidance they need. All without needing to book a physical appointment, or wait in a tedious telephone queue.

Increased Access to Care

Distance, time, and convenience can sometimes be a barrier to accessing care. Thankfully, telehealth gives patients and providers the tools to overcome these hurdles, by letting them access all essential services online. 

This makes it easier for people with disabilities to get access to the care they need. The same is true for those that are geographically isolated or find it difficult to attend in person. 

Limits Risk of Infection

Telehealth reduces the risk of infection as the patient doesn't have to step foot in the practice, and can receive care from home. This means they won't come into contact with other patients, which eliminates the risk of passing on or contracting a disease. 

This is especially significant during high risk periods, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic, as practices across the country are forced into introducing restrictions and reducing footfall to limit the spread of the virus.

For people with underlying health conditions or immunodeficiencies, telehealth lets them get the care they need safely, without jeopardizing their health. 

The Disadvantages of Telehealth

While telehealth is an exciting prospect for many, some remain apprehensive about its widespread adoption. For many practices, the main concerns surrounding telehealth are the cost of the initial set-up and the lack of physical interaction that the technology can sometimes promote.

Cost of Equipment and Technology

As telehealth provides access to numerous remote healthcare services like video consultations and post-operative care, initial set-up can sometimes be costly especially if your practice lacks any effective IT infrastructure to begin with. 

Although, after the initial investment, telehealth is a much more cost-effective alternative to traditional in-house visits. Time is money, and as telehealth allows doctors and patients to manage appointments or follow-up checks with more flexibility, it saves both in the long-run. 

Lack of Physical Interaction

Modern technology gives patients and doctors easy access to technology allowing for high-quality video calls, online booking, and more.

However, for some patients, a virtual appointment will be no substitute for a face-to-face one. And certain conditions will be impossible to diagnose without a physical examination and will require a visit to the practice.

Naturally, there will be people that prefer to attend their practice in person. But for those that are prevented from attending due to time constraints, distance, or illness, telehealth allows them to still receive the same great care from home. 

Telehealth: Here to Stay?

The demand for telehealth is growing. Its convenience, accessibility, and cost-saving opportunities make it an attractive solution for practices that want to improve their current services. 

Regardless of your view on telehealth, it's set to be a mainstay in the modern healthcare environment, and will likely become a well-established method of managing healthcare in the near-future. 

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