There tend to be three camps of people regarding virtual meetings. Camp one: I love this! It’s so convenient! Why haven’t we always done this? Camp two: I hate this! Why can’t we just meet in person? I can’t wait until this is all over. Camp three: The convenience is great, but I miss personal face-to-face interaction sometimes.
During the pandemic in most professions, including medicine, virtual meetings became a requirement. And although telemedicine is nothing new in the practice of medicine, the pandemic forced this type of interaction on many patient groups, such as Baby Boomers, who have never used it before and are now seeing its advantages. Out of necessity, patients that never dreamed of speaking to their doctor through a video interface are now unphased by a virtual appointment. It truly shows our ability to adapt.
Just to be clear, there is a difference between the term telemedicine versus telehealth. As clarified by the American Academy of Family Physicians, telemedicine refers specifically to a distanced patient/physician interaction that occurs through a virtual video chat platform whereas telehealth is a broader term that includes this interaction as well non-clinical services.
Becker’s Hospital Review interviewed several health IT executives to review the benefits and challenges of telemedicine in the future. Steady reimbursement of telemedicine sessions was a prominent theme in moving forward. Providers need to continue to incorporate this form of medical care into their healthcare plans for patients to have access to this service.
Technology is also a concern. Currently, many telemedicine interactions occur on technology platforms outside of electronic medical records software. Integrating the two may offer several advantages to practitioners including a more seamless interface between doctor and patient.
Finally, the true test of telemedicine will occur at the hands of the patients. If patients continue to expect, adhere to, and even demand telemedicine as part of their normal healthcare process, then the healthcare system, as well as public policy, will adapt to incorporate this advanced form of interface for future generations to come. Nothing will ever replace the face-to-face interaction between a physician and their patient, but the convenience may go a long way in attracting patients to make and keep appointments with their healthcare providers.