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Pros and Cons of Telemedicine to Improve Healthcare
Published at November 25, 2022
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Telemedicine is the growing trend of using telehealth tools in the healthcare industry. This, however, does not stop at healthcare institutions or clinics. It can also be used by doctors and nurses on the go. In this context, telemedicine also helps patients to get better treatments from their homes, and save healthcare costs and results.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has also been crucial in enabling these innovative local businesses to start providing digital services to the healthcare industry, according to MIDA official website.

The market for digital health technology, such as wearables, health sensors, and other solutions aimed at digitally transforming the healthcare industry, is anticipated to cross USD 379 billion by 2024, according to a study analysis by Global Market Insights.

This healthcare technology advantage is also being quickly applied to the evolution of telemedicine service in Malaysia and globally, which has the potential to relieve hospital “overload.”

The opportunity in telemedicine growth also has pros and cons that patients, medical professionals, and all the parties involved must know. Here are the pros and cons and anything related to telemedicine.

What is telemedicine?

According to News Medical, the term "telemedicine" refers to the delivery of therapeutic services remotely through two-way, real-time audio and video communication between a patient and a healthcare professional.

Telemedicine typically takes the form of phone calls when the patient asks the doctor for guidance on non-emergency medical issues that don't need physical visits. When necessary, in-person consultations are not replaced by telemedicine but are supported.

In the follow-up of patients with chronic conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, it’s precious.

Further, patients can take advantage of telemedicine's convenience if they need help with dosage adjustment, lifestyle changes, medication prescriptions, or even just access to group support but don’t have an urgent medical issue.

A phone or other device with internet access and a camera is needed for a telemedicine session with a doctor and other healthcare professionals.

Here are three examples of telemedicine:

  • A mobile application that allows doctors to video chat with patients and treat them
  • A secure software platform that enables patients to send images of their symptoms to their doctors for early diagnosis
  • Monitoring a patient's vital signs and activity levels remotely

The difference between telemedicine and conventional medicine

The main difference between telemedicine and conventional medicine is the way patients get treatments and diagnoses. Telemedicine and conventional medicine both have limitations.

In general, telemedicine is supposed to be more affordable than medicines. Transport and transfer costs are minimised because treatment is given to patients at home, according to EZClinic.

Even though telemedicine seems more efficient, conventional medicine outlines the main limits of telemedicine. A doctor is better able to identify symptoms during an in-person visit. In order to obtain fresh samples for things like X-rays and other medical procedures, patients must be present at the location.

Telemedicine also solves the limits of conventional medicine in addition to the limitations of telemedicine. Hospitals see a lot of patients with illnesses like the flu, measles, etc. Due to the contagious nature of these illnesses, professionals and other visitors run the danger of contracting them. Telemedicine can help in this situation by preventing the spread of diseases.

The Pros of Telemedicine

Telemedicine has the potential to provide numerous health benefits to patients. For example, telemedicine could improve patient care by providing real-time updates on medical conditions, accessible communication between doctors and patients, and allowing for more efficient treatment of diseases.

In addition, telemedicine can lead to new treatments and cures being developed that would not have been possible with traditional healthcare methods. Here are the pros of telemedicine.

1. Improved healthcare access

Access to medical treatment is one of the main advantages of telemedicine. In order to alleviate the lack of healthcare providers, particularly in rural areas, telemedicine was initially created in the United States.

Almost all places have medical specialists available to consult with patients living in remote areas. Telemedicine eliminates the hurdles that prevent these patients from receiving the in-person care they need, such as waiting weeks or even months to visit a specialist.

In a similar context, telemedicine allows patients to consult with an expert who may not have an office nearby.

2. Convenience and comfort

The patient can use telemedicine to avoid driving to the doctor's office or waiting in a waiting room. Absolutely, the patient can do a virtual visit from their home.

Virtual visits can often be possible in a busy schedule. The patient may not even need to take time off from work or make childcare arrangements if they use telemedicine, depending on their schedule.

3. Low cost

Even those with good health insurance may find seeing doctors and therapists to be costly. Telemedicine consultations are often less expensive than in-person ones. Thus, a barrier to care is removed by lowering the costs.

Further, Telemedicine users spend less time in the hospital, which reduces costs. Additionally, reduced travelling time may result in lower secondary costs like child care.

Many telemedicine apps for doctors come with built-in patient enrollment and scheduling capabilities that help simplify booking virtual appointments. It can help patients to make payments without the need to spend money on paper bills. Hence, collecting patient payments for virtual visits becomes simple.

The Cons of Telemedicine

Telemedicine has the potential to transform healthcare by providing more affordable and timely access to medical treatment for a wide range of patients. However, there are several disadvantages related to telemedicine that deserve consideration. Here are some of the cons of telemedicine.

1. Physical examination limitations

The inability to perform a physical examination in person is a serious limitation. The inability to weigh patients may result in incorrect dosages of weight-based medications (such as chemotherapy treatments and paediatric medications).

2. Industry regulation

Country variations in telemedicine regulations make them challenging to understand. Some doctors may want to put in less effort to determine what is obligated to deal with the telemedicine regulations in their country.

3. Data and security

The security of data transmitted by personal health information can be a problem. Since many parties can access the personal health data of patients, it will result in the possibility of leaking the patient's personal health data which can be used by people who are not responsible.

4. Tools and Technology

Some patients may experience issues using their apps. Some medical practitioners may not have patients who are technology savvy or they may be concerned about equipment expenses and setup. Others may simply be unable in locating a user-friendly telemedicine platform that meets their needs.

Conclusion

The expanding telemedicine market will enable healthcare providers to treat more patients, enhance patient outcomes, and lower costs.

The quality of the software used is a key component of a successful telemedicine plan for the medical sector. To provide high-quality healthcare services, it is essential to have user-friendly telemedicine apps that prioritise the patient experience.

Working with a mobile app agency partner who is familiar with the Medical Device Authority (MDA) under Ministry of Health Malaysia compliance regulations and both the significance of medical services and personal data use is the best way to ensure the success of the telemedicine app.

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