What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, eHealth, or digital medicine, allows patients to communicate with their doctors without being in the same room. This can be done through phone calls, text messages, emails, or more recently, video calls. Patients can have appointments, consultations, interventions, monitoring, and also receive care and advice.
Telemedicine was widely used prior to 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic really increased the use of telemedicine. More and more patients chose to schedule a virtual doctor’s visit rather than an in-person one because they felt it was safer. It’s also much more convenient and is likely to stick around to some extent after the pandemic.
Benefits of Telemedicine
One advantage is that doctor offices have created online portals so that their patients can get immediate access to test results, schedule/reschedule appointments, and even ask their doctors questions without having to come into the office. All of this information can be shared between and easily accessed by the patient’s other healthcare providers as well, making it easier to coordinate care between a primary care physician and a specialist.
It can also be used to continuously monitor a patient’s health. Wearable devices can track heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other vitals and send them to the patient’s doctor(s). It can also be used to monitor elderly patients in their homes to ensure that they’re taking their medication on time.
Shortcomings of Telemedicine
Not every type of doctor’s visit can be done remotely. Blood work, diagnoses, and popular medical treatments such as massage therapy all have to be done in person. Even the remote doctor’s visits aren’t enough— eventually, patients will have to come into the office. There’s also the concern about the security of health information being shared electronically.
Another downfall is that more and more health insurance companies are covering telemedicine, but coverage may not be as full as it would be for an in-person visit. Coverage may also drop once the pandemic is over, and the need for it isn’t as great.
How New Jobs Are Being Created Because of Telemedicine
Before the pandemic, This was mostly available to those who lived in rural and underserved areas— those who didn’t have adequate access to healthcare. With emerging technologies such as computers, smartphones, and the internet, physicians were able to communicate with patients in need of healthcare in those areas. Now that COVID-19 has impacted the way we do a lot of things, more and more physicians and patients are turning to telemedicine, meaning that more doctors are going to be needed to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access remote healthcare.
Many physicians are even setting up virtual clinics that exclusively use telecommunications to get medical advice to patients. Physicians interested in telemedicine can search for jobs specific to this area on a physician job search site, as opposed to a general job search site that may not list jobs specifically in telemedicine.
The Future of Telemedicine
Though some areas may see a decrease in telemedicine once the pandemic is over, other areas are likely to see a continuous use and maybe even an increase. With the help of technology, physicians will be able to expand their practice to help patients across the globe. Telemedicine is a prime example of an industry that has evolved to fit the needs of the people.
Unfortunately, many physician practices only started using telemedicine once the pandemic started. This means that they had to learn quickly to adapt to the new demands presented by the pandemic. Had they used some form of telemedicine prior to the pandemic, additional stress and learning curves wouldn’t have been placed on physicians.
The Bottom Line
Overall, telemedicine has been very beneficial in the world of medicine. Not only does it keep high-risk patients safe during uncertain times, but it’s also more convenient for doctor visits that don’t require any additional tests. Although there are some privacy and security concerns with telemedicine, these concerns are likely to be directly addressed and resolved since telemedicine may not be dying out any time soon.
Physicians can also benefit because telemedicine jobs can potentially be less stressful than other physician jobs. Most sessions are just consultations between doctor and patient, which also makes it possible for doctors to see more patients. Switching to telemedicine for simple doctor visits can also be a possible solution for those physicians experiencing burnout.