Telemedicine is certainly making its presence known in the medical field. As people love to complete essentially as any activities as possible through their phones, the ability to connect with a doctor virtually is appealing. However, questions do arise about telehealth, and these questions have to do with two important areas, which are quality and costs. In order for telehealth to make sense to medical practices, the costs have to be within reason. In order for this form of medical care to make sense to patients, the services must be effective. Fortunately, it is possible for telemedicine to be both cost effective and high quality. To fulfill this goal, several elements must be considered.
If medical practices want to keep the costs down, they need to make sure that they have the proper equipment to conduct sessions virtually. For example, if they are constantly spending money on old-fashioned methods of connectivity instead of employing new high-speed and lower-cost techniques, then the practice is unlikely to find this particular strategy effective. Practices interested in using this methods must make sure that they are updated on the technology.
In order to keep the services both high quality and cost effective, patients need to know when they should seek other types of care. For example, if an urgent care facility is using this virtual method of accepting appointments, patients need to know that chronic conditions should usually be addressed by a primary care physician. Doctors at urgent care facilities only know what it is that their patients tell them. They don’t have the ability to assess patients over a longer period of time. In other scenarios, going to the emergency room is the more appropriate course of action.
The importance of a proper diagnosis is one that cannot be argued. However, when patients are not going to their primary care physicians regularly, it can be difficult for a doctor whom they have never met before to offer the right diagnosis. This reason is another one why providing patients with the proper information is important. Patients who have to go to the urgent care facility and to their regular doctors are wasting money.
When practices are considering the benefits of going virtual, they should consider the fact that the practice itself will likely have lower operating costs. For example, in the event that the decision is made to allow the doctors to work virtually too, then the practice does not have to be heated, cooled and powered with electricity as much as it once was when everyone came into the office to be seen. These lower operating costs could help to compensate for the money spent to better the virtual appointments.
The practice should also consider the possibility of allowing doctors to work from home. Doing so can help to save costs in a few ways, and patients can still have the same level of care. Doctors may very well need assess to certain tools and resources at the practice that they do not have at home. In the event that they cannot move these resources to their homes, practices might want to consider having doctors work from home late at night or on the weekends. In other words, practices that allow for virtual appointments could generate more business by staying open during hours when physical practices are closed.
The debate as to whether or not these types of practices can be both cost effective and high quality is one that may continue for some time. After all, offering medical advice virtually is fairly new on the scene. However, as the field grows, more and more practitioners will likely realize that achieving this balance is possible.