Online Visits to the Doctor
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a paradigm shift in patient management and care. The need for social distancing and the fear associated with the increased risk of exposure to the virus has increased the popularity of telemedicine.
Advantages of Online Doctor Visits
The biggest advantage of online consultations is undoubtedly their convenience. Seeing the doctor in the convenience of your own home, on your laptop or mobile device saves money and time that would have been spent physically going there. It eliminates the stress of traffic jams and can easily fit into your schedule. Not having to go to a doctor’s office is particularly helpful for elderly patients who may find movement difficult or for those who have children that need to be supervised, where taking them would be stressful or impractical.
Online consultations also allow for on-demand healthcare options, with some offices offering online video consultations 24-7. The availability of a doctor that can treat you quickly as the need arises is especially beneficial in cases where emergency medical attention is needed.
Some online consultations may involve a group of doctors from many different specialties, and this is good because it increases access to multiple opinions and allows for collaboration with diagnosis and treatment. When compared with having to physically visit multiple offices, the time, energy, and money that is saved cannot be overlooked. Online consultations even allow patients access to doctors based overseas without having to spend the time and money on travel expenses.
Importantly, with the COVID-19 pandemic, by staying home and having an online video consultation you reduce your exposure risk because you won’t have to sit in a waiting room, with other individuals, while waiting to be attended to.
Disadvantages of Online Doctor Visits
However, the system is not without its disadvantages. There are some illnesses where physical examination is essential for an accurate diagnosis to be made and so it could be dangerous for the patient if this is not done. In cases where immediate action or assistance is needed to improve patient outcomes, such as allergic reactions, video consultation can be disadvantageous and result in time being lost.
Also, even though its popularity has significantly increased, a disadvantage of telemedicine is its availability and cost. You may have access to telemedicine, while for the provider, the cost to set up and maintain the service may be too high. As such, many smaller healthcare facilities will not have this service available.
Major concerns also exist regarding the security of personal health data that is being transmitted electronically. Medical data is extremely sensitive information and the possibility of hacking any online system exists. Therefore, some patients may not feel comfortable using this forum.
- Wu, B Dr. (2016, December 19). What Are the Benefits and Advantages of Telemedicine?
- (n.d.). Definitive Guide to Telemedicine.
- Cecilia Arias