The concept of telemedicine was lingering around for a long time. However, it only arrived on the healthcare system’s horizon after the unprecedented growth of the internet and mobile technology. The current statistics suggest that more than half of the US hospitals have telemedicine divisions. Moreover, its market size was around $6.61 billion in 2019, and it is expected to rise to $17 billion in the next six years.
Telemedicine is certainly changing and redefining some of the rules of the existing healthcare system. Nonetheless, all the changes instigated by telemedicine are not good. Here, we will glance over both the good and bad changes that telemedicine is bringing about in the healthcare system.
Positive Effects of Telemedicine on the Healthcare System
There are various ways in which telemedicine is shaping the healthcare system for better.
Making At-Home Patient Rehab Possible
In cases where patients discharge from the ICU or ER, it marks the beginning of the care process, especially for patients suffering from neurological diseases. For many patients who have just discharged, it is not easy to regularly go to their healthcare facilities during the rehabilitation phase. Telemedicine has made it easy for both healthcare facilities and patients to conduct those rehab sessions with relative ease.
Ensuring Quicker Service of Medical Care
Telemedicine has made it possible for physicians to serve more people in the same time slot. Moreover, it has made it easy for patients to get to professional medical care in minutes without wasting time in commutes and waiting lines. This effect will enhance more as telemedicine practices will consolidate their place.
Negative Effects of Telemedicine on the Healthcare System
Telemedicine also entails some unwanted consequences for the healthcare system.
Concerns Regarding Decreased Care Quality and Mistakes
Many physicians believe that increasing telemedicine practices may affect the quality of the care provided to patients. They believe that the virtual nature of this domain can increase the mistakes on the part of caregivers. Some patients also share this concern with physicians.
It Will Further Highlight the Urban-Ruler Disparity
Urban populations are ahead of rural settings when it comes to technological facilities and savviness. This divide is going to further deepen as telemedicine will become more mainstream.
Doctor-Patient Relationship and Telemedicine
Contrary to popular belief, telemedicine is strengthening the doctor-patient relationship. When doctors see patients in healthcare facilities, they are distracted by a host of things. Also, they can attend each patient only for a very short window. Telemedicine has made it easy for patients and doctors to be more frequent in their interactions.
The dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship in telemedicine is mostly helping diabetic and cardiovascular patients since they need continuous supervision to improve their health behavior.
Telemedicine and COVID-19
Many people believe telemedicine’s ongoing growth is due to the pandemic. Coronavirus has indeed improved the pace of various telemedicine developments. Many technologies and SOPs have been put into place in a couple of months, which would have taken years otherwise.
Nonetheless, telemedicine is not a “trend” that has come with COVID-19 and will die with it. Even long before SARS-CoV-2 caused a pandemic, the telemedicine industry was on track to share a large segment of the global healthcare landscape.