Visiting the doctor has taken on a whole new meaning with the rise of telemedicine, or virtual health care. While telemedicine is still in its infancy, experts predict it will explode in the next five years. But for those of us who have spent a lifetime visiting our doctors in their offices, virtual health care seems like it just won’t measure up.
And the truth is, it probably won’t. Virtual health care is not meant to replace face-to-face physician care. Medicine is one area that will always need the human touch, quite literally. But it is a powerful tool that can help us get the best possible care, efficiently and effectively.
Virtual health care is any mode of technology that helps doctors and other health care providers communicate with their patients without seeing them in the office. This includes “visits” by video chat, online communication, and online second opinions.
There are some concerns that will need to be addressed before virtual care can become the norm. The major reservation is privacy and security. Cyber attacks against the healthcare industry are on the rise, and the more you use virtual health care, the more likely your sensitive health information is to be at risk. But proponents of virtual medicine say that with strong security and patient education, these issues can be resolved easily.
Here are some of the benefits of virtual medicine, which may outweigh the risks:
You can’t argue with that one. For a traditional doctor’s visit, you need to travel to the office, sit in the waiting room, and drive back home. That can be over an hour of wasted time. A virtual visit from the comfort of your own living room will reduce the time you waste.
Manage your chronic conditions
If you have an ongoing medical condition, such as high blood pressure or COPD, your doctor can monitor your symptoms daily using virtual technology. This way, if anything unusual happens, your doctor will be able to flag it immediately.
You can have your PCP and specialist collaborate in a virtual visit, reducing your appointments. You could also record meetings and keep a digital log of the appointment so you and your doctors can review the information whenever needed.
Your doctor is with you wherever you go
You can travel or visit family in another state without worrying about your health care. You can still communicate with your doctor and access medical services, right from your phone.
What do you think about virtual medicine? Do you think the benefits outweigh the risks?