Seeing our doctor more often is something we all feel we should be doing. But when we don’t feel ill, we assume everything is okay and there is no need to see a doctor. It may be due to a fear of bad news making you neglect your scheduled doctors’ visits, or perhaps it’s just that you can’t find the time.
Whatever the reason may be, a new form of communication technology is sweeping the nation, helping patients get in contact with their physicians from the convenience of their own homes.
A service called Telemedicine is changing the healthcare landscape. It is helping alleviate the growing national shortage of doctors. Many American residents live in rural areas, making it quite difficult to see a physician during times of health concern.
Telemedicine has helped fill in the need for more accessible health care. More than 10 million Americans use the service every year.
It allows individuals to speak to a doctor in a virtual office setting. Video chats can be made through a smartphone, tablet, or computer. A great benefit is that you are actually talking to a real person, and not some computer-generated robot—the service aims to make human to human interaction a priority.
Using one on one doctor-patient interviews, these sessions can help obtain a diagnosis and provide prescriptions for minor issues. It can also help with ongoing care for more chronic conditions—a common scenario for older adults.
Some insurance companies have even started adding telemedicine services to their coverage plans.
A study documenting the various uses of this service found that the majority of virtual visits were for acute respiratory problems, urinary tract infections, and skin complaints.
The great thing about having video and audio during communication sessions is that patients are able to describe their symptoms in great detail. They are also able to visibly show what may be causing the problem, helping physicians perform better compared to simply speaking on the phone.
While telemedicine was not created to replace a traditional doctor’s visit, it can be used to help people with minor problems. This allows more serious conditions to get the most in-office attention.
The service also helps patients stick with prescribed treatment plans and allows them to ask questions they are concerned about. Having an alternative way to see a medical professional can also help circumvent the potential stigma of going to a medical clinic.