Telemedicine is the ability of healthcare providers to meet with patients remotely via telephone or video.
This practice has been around almost as long as telephones but has become more popular and practical during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Improvements in technology and changes to insurance reimbursement rulings have helped increase the acceptance of telemedicine. Without it, doctors and therapists wouldn’t be able to connect with patients as easily, especially during the pandemic.
As telemedicine has become widespread, professionals and patients have grown more comfortable connecting virtually.
Telemedicine isn’t meant to take the place of face-to-face visits. While it does have some disadvantages, which we’ll get into later, its benefits are undeniable.
1. Easy access to specialists
Not everyone has an ongoing relationship with a doctor they can call when they need one. Many online medical networks offer round-the-clock access to all kinds of specialists, without an appointment, at any time of day or night.
2. Lower cost
Doctors and therapists can be expensive, even for people with good health insurance. Telemedicine appointments typically cost less than in-person visits do. This reduces out-of-pocket costs, removing a barrier to care.
3. Medical access for people without health insurance
Not having adequate health insurance can be an obstacle to seeing a doctor. Many online companies provide cash-pay telemedicine, which doesn’t require health insurance or referrals.
4. Medical access for people in rural areas
Country living has many benefits, but fast access to medical care isn’t always one of them. For people who live many miles from the nearest medical facility, telemedicine provides a way to meet with a doctor quickly.
This saves time and allows people to stay off the road when driving conditions are less than optimal, such as during a snowstorm or hailstorm.
5. Medical access for people in underserved urban areas
The trend of hospital closures in inner-city neighborhoods has affected thousands of Americans, especially communities of color and people without health insurance.
Telemedicine helps break this cycle by providing a way for people to see a doctor before they get extremely sick.
This article was originally featured in Healthline, read more here.