Due to the global pandemic, telemedicine has grown exponentially in the last two years. It was already in an expansion phase thanks to technology, but COVID-related stay-at-home restrictions meant that many of us had to or wanted to switch to seeing medical practitioners digitally.
Unfortunately, though, many misconceptions about online appointments in this arena still abound. Here are some common myths that need debunking today.
It’s More Expensive
Firstly, many people erroneously think that opting for a digital health session will cost them more than an in-person one. However, one study by Health Affairs found average telehealth visit costs were $79, yet an average office visit to the doctor came to $146. While the reimbursement for telehealth appointments is generally lower than that for an in-person consultation, online sessions can save you money in other areas.
For example, you don’t have to give up time sitting around waiting in a practice for the doctor to see you, and you don’t have travel fees to get to a clinic nor costs associated with taking time off work for your appointment or arranging childcare.
Doctors Can’t Diagnose Remotely
Another fallacy in the healthcare arena is that doctors can’t diagnose patient ailments correctly if they only see them remotely. While there may be occasional times when physicians need to view a part of the body in person, most of the time, they can get a patient to hold a camera up to the area in question and provide details about symptoms and health history to get the data they need.
Keep in mind, too, that for prognoses that are hard to determine at first glance, patients would likely need to get testing done or see a specialist even if they saw a doctor in person. Do some research into well-regarded medical practitioners who offer online appointments, such as Everyday Doctor, and you’ll likely see them mention how proficient they are at handling most of the same services digitally as they do face-to-face.
Patient Data Isn’t Secure
Some people don’t want to see a doctor remotely because they worry that their private, sensitive health information and payment details may not be kept secure enough from hackers or clinic staff members. However, doctors who run sessions online tend to take online security much more seriously than those that don’t, thus helping to keep your details safe from prying eyes.
Plus, even if you see a doctor in person, they’ll have digital files on you and your health history that they store online, and they’ll likely use internet-connected tech tools to handle payments, too. As such, hackers can just as readily find personal data about you when you have face-to-face appointments as when you have remote ones. Your data may not be as safe from the latter, though, since physicians often don’t take as many privacy protection steps in their on-site offices.
Online Doctors Aren’t Experienced or Qualified Enough
We all want to see a doctor with many years of experience, a medical degree, and evidence of more recent qualifications such as professional development training and work in specialist areas. Some people think they’ll only gain access to this kind of knowledge if they book in with someone who runs appointments in person.
However, just because you choose a physician who operates online doesn’t mean they’re less qualified. Many top practitioners decide to make digital appointments available so they can work from home themselves and save time because they’re in demand, busy, and focused on being as productive as possible.
It’s also worth remembering that we have easy access to high-definition video and connected devices these days, so online sessions can still give us clear images and sound. Plus, patients often find it easier to attend telehealth consultations than face-to-face ones, so they receive greater continuity of care. The relationship between doctor and patient is boosted by more regularly meeting, too. In turn, this allows a doctor to get to know their patient and provide higher-quality care.
These are just a few of the myths about telemedicine. Also, look out for misconceptions such as that there’s never any insurance cover for online appointments, such sessions are only available if you live a long way from a clinic or hospital, or that online meetings are only for emergencies.
These things are wrong, so check data before you believe myths, and don’t be afraid to ask doctors and administration staff at health practices for information about the telehealth services they provide.