Is Telemedicine A Safe Alternative To Regular Care?
Walgreens and several insurance companies are starting to utilize telemedicine to offer patients a cheaper alternative to visiting an emergency room or doctor’s office.
Smart phone applications and laptops will help patients connect with doctors via the internet in 25 states by the end of this year. In addition to national drugstore chains, several insurance companies are attempting to connect 40 million people to virtual doctors.
Telemedicine has seen an explosion in popularity, with an estimated 450,000 patients expected to converse with doctors using the internet by the end of this year. Recent research suggests doctors also prefer to converse with patients via the web. A recent survey conducted by QuantiaMD shows that 57 percent of physicians are interested in conversing with patients using telemedicine.
How Safe Is Telemedicine For Diagnosing Health Conditions?
While telemedicine is convenient, it has drawbacks that could potentially affect patient safety. In some circumstances, patients might benefit from seeing a doctor in person. Some illnesses and injuries require tests to be performed in person, meaning that telemedicine may not be the best option available.
Patients with potentially life-threatening health conditions need prompt, in-person medical attention. The president of the American Academy of Family Physicians recently used the example of acid reflux disease sharing symptoms with a heart attack. For a doctor to rule out acid reflux, they may need to perform tests in-person on the patient.
A Harvard Medical School professor recently warned that telemedicine could increase the risk of misdiagnosis, as remote doctors may not have enough information about patients and their medical history.
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