Telemedicine – a term you’ve recently surely seen floating around in the healthcare field! One reason for the buzz is that there has been a 3% increase in the amount of organizations using telemedicine since 2014 alone. According to a HIMSS Analytics’ 2015 Telemedicine Study 65% of hospitals and 34% of physician practices are using telemedicine in some form. The same study found that the most utilized telemedicine product/ solution is two-way video conferencing. With such an increase in telemedicine usage over just one year, it comes as no surprise that there are many unanswered questions about this ever-growing field, leaving many skeptical of this technology. With skeptics come myths, so today I will break down those myths for you, starting with two-way video conferencing.
False: Telemedicine is a complex market. Yes, video-conferencing is the most utilized telemedicine solution, but it is by far not the only solution. Telemedicine actually covers multiple technologies from consumer health apps to video-conferencing. Two other commonly used telemedicine applications include remote monitoring and teleradiology, which do not require live video.
Myth #2: Telemedicine is a new field
False: Telemedicine has been around for over 40 years in various forms. Radiologists, in particular have been using telemedicine to read MRIs for decades and doctors have used their phones to check patients’ pacemakers remotely for just as long. Believe it or not, your very own doctor is most likely using a form of telemedicine at his or her practice.
Myth #3: Telemedicine is expensive
False: Telemedicine has become very inexpensive, especially in terms of two-way video conferencing. In many instances, it can be cheaper than going to the doctor’s office. People in rural areas may have to drive hours to see a specialist; this is where telemedicine can be a huge money factor. Many telemedicine services offer video conferencing for no more than $50, saving time and money for those that do not have a doctor 20 minutes away. Telemedicine is also cutting back on the costs for individuals in developing countries. For woman in particular, they now have the ability to have ultra-sound reads, which are then sent to a specialist in another country. The specialist will read the ultra sound and be able to inform the mother how the baby is doing in real time. In this case, not only is telemedicine saving money, but also it is also potentially saving lives.
Myth #4: Telemedicine is not safe
False: Telemedicine has greatly improved over the years. All telemedicine services have to abide by industry standards such as being HIPAA-compliant, as well as making sure their solution is private and secure.
Myth #5: Telemedicine will bring an end to doctor visits
False: There will always be a need for patients to see their doctors in person. Some of these reasons include blood tests, physical check-ups and imaging (MRI, CT Scans, etc.). Telemedicine is not meant nor can ever be used to replace an in-office doctor visit. That being said, telemedicine could cut down on the need to see a doctor for certain cases, such as asking for a prescription for a sinus infection. Plus, doctors and patients still have years before they adapt and trust all that telemedicine has to offer.