5 Common Telemedicine Myths DebunkedPosted: August 26, 2020 - By Elizabeth Velez
You might be surprised to learn that telemedicine has been around since the 1960’s. Although it may have been implemented sparsely, as we’ve moved into the pandemic, telemedicine has become very common. Prior to the pandemic people were generally skeptical about the merits of telemedicine. Over the years there have been countless misconceptions and myths that have created a barrier to telemedicine being more widely adopted. Let’s debunk these 5 common myths.
Myth #1: Telemedicine is expensive
Due to the pandemic, most states have mandated that telemedicine visits be paid at parity with in-office visits. While the cost of healthcare remains the same for patients, practices and patients will actually save on expenses by using telemedicine. Practices will save on overhead expenses like having to room patients, take vitals, and provide PPE for staff. Patients will save on travel expenses, lost time from work, and the inconvenience of having to transport themselves or family to the hospital. So, telemedicine is actually less expensive for everyone involved.
Myth #2: Once the pandemic is over telemedicine won’t be necessary
We are living amongst a paradigm shift in the medical field. Emergency mandates at both the federal and state level have reduced regulations that limited telemedicine in the past. While we’re not sure how these mandates will hold after the pandemic, with virtual healthcare interactions on pace to top 1 billion by year’s end, it is unlikely that it will go away in the future. Telemedicine has many benefits that will carry on beyond the pandemic. Telemedicne increases access to care for people who are unable to travel, or live in remote locations. Consider the convenience for people who cannot miss work or school to get themselves or their children into the doctor’s office. Additionally, telemedicine will continue to be a useful option for patients who are dealing with chronic conditions. It’s easier for these patients to consult with doctors through video consultations than make the trip when they are experiencing pain.
Myth #3: Telemedicine isn’t secure
Protecting your patient’s private health information is of paramount importance. Professional telemedicine platforms are HIPAA compliant and feature fully encrypted data transmission. It is worth noting that during the pandemic, restrictions have been lifted to make telemedicine more accessible for doctors and patients. Currently, practices are temporarily allowed to consult with patients over non-secure platforms like Skype and FaceTime to keep patients and physicians safe from contracting COVID-19. However, once the pandemic has been resolved, it’s more than likely restrictions will be enforced again. Choosing a secure Telemedicine platform from the onset is crucial to consider for patient security in the future.
Myth #4: The technology is too difficult for senior citizens
Don’t underestimate senior citizens when it comes to technology! In addition to being well versed in email and text messaging, senior citizens are interested in telemedicine. The number one reason why many senior citizens have not used telemedicine is simply because they’ve not been given the option. According to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan, almost 60 percent of senior citizens said they’d use telehealth for a return visit, and 55 percent said they’d turn to virtual care for a one-time follow-up after a procedure or surgery.
Myth #5: Telemedicine isn’t practical for physical examinations
While it is true that telemedicine cannot replace an in-person visit, there are many instances when a virtual consultation can be very useful. Physicians can carry out a virtual examination to diagnose rashes, orthopedic issues, allergies, skin issues, examine the throat, and have the patient or parents of younger patients palpate the neck, abdomen, etc. Although, Contemporary Pediatrics references that the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommends telemedicine for physical examinations be “followed by a timely in-person visit.”
Eventually the pandemic will be over. When we’ve reached the other side, we will see that some of the changes to the world will remain. Telemedicine has recently met it’s moment of need, and will most likely be one of the changes that remains post-pandemic. Hopefully, the truth behind these common telemedicine myths will encourage you to expand your practice’s reach by implementing telemedicine.