Updated: Sep 17, 2020
In these pandemic and COVID-19 times, it seems that telehealth (include telemedicine) would be a long-term, or permanent panacea.
It seems relevant, and has the potential to change various traditional practices in healthcare.
However, there are limitations, including but not limited to the following:
1. Most medical practitioners are licensed to practice in their home state only, and they do not have the license to practice in other states although doing so using phone or video applications or phone, does seem easy and natural.
2. In many cases, the inability to perform the needed visual inspection or physical exam, restricts the use of telehealth to conditions that can be conveyed using words or pictures.
3. Various emergency conditions cannot be resolved using phone or video.
4. The use of technical devices and processes poses a communication barrier between patient and healthcare provider.
5. Phone or video conversations between remote parties introduces communication privacy concerns and a level of discomfort with disclosing personal conditions. This again presents a communication barrier between the physician (provider) and the patient.
Telehealth has not yet become prevalent or widely adopted and there are cultural barriers. Many patients are still not sure if they will receive due attention and service form the healthcare provider when they are not physically present.
But this problem is not new. In the 1990s, the use of credit cards on various e-shopping sites was slow to pickup because many people were reluctant to prove their credit card information on a new unfamiliar site. In coming years, the adoption of telehealth will be fostered and accelerated due to its inherent advantages:
(1) its convenience, and
(2) its ability to provide access to expert opinions that are not locally available in the patient’s place of residence, or region.