Although telemedicine is a rapidly growing field, some physicians remain resistant—perhaps due to misconceptions about the technology. While we can’t help you overcome the inertia of trying something new, we can help you debunk the most common myths with the following telemedicine facts.
Myth #1: Telemedicine is too complicated.
Reality: Like most things, telemedicine can be made into an overwhelming behemoth. And like many things, it can also be kept simple and serviceable. Telemedicine boils down to simple communication that is no more confusing than a telephone; it’s about sharing images, video, and notes while talking to someone you can see on a screen. That’s it. These are technologies that most of us already use.
Myth #2: A physical exam is required for quality care.
Reality: This may be true in some circumstances, but not in all cases. Think of the times when a doctor or nurse provides medical advice during a phone call; telemedicine just expands on this routine. Since many situations revolve around a patient with a minor but urgent condition, only the medical history and reported symptoms are needed for diagnosis and treatment. Telemedicine also offers a convenient method for follow-ups and post-op check-ins, regardless of how the patient was seen initially.
Myth #3: Telemedicine isn’t financially viable.
Reality: For most practices, telemedicine actually boosts the bottom line by improving patient flow, reducing cancellations and no-shows, and monetizing after-hour consultations. All that’s needed is a computer or tablet with a video camera and secure video communications software. In addition, as noted by the American Telemedicine Association, 27 states and DC have parity laws in place to enforce coverage for telemedicine services; other states have legislation pending.
Myth #4: Telemedicine doesn’t mesh well with electronic medical records (EMRs).
Reality: If the chosen software isn’t specifically designed for the healthcare industry, then EMR integration could be a challenge. However, since EMRs are used in most medical practices today, most telemedicine platforms can interface directly with EMRs or can export data into an EMR.
Myth #5: Telemedicine isn’t secure.
Reality: Consumer-grade video conferencing services like Skype are certainly not secure enough for medical use, but in order to comply with HIPAA, telemedicine platforms use encryption to keep data safe—just like banks do.
Myth #6: Patients won’t use telemedicine.
Reality: Recent studies indicate high level of interest among consumers. Among patients less than 34 years of age, 60% prefer video conference visits, according to Salesforce.com. And a Georgetown University study found that over half of the Baby Boomers surveyed want to use technology, including telemedicine, to stay healthy.
Key Takeaway: Implementing telemedicine consultations may seem daunting to newcomers, but as shown by the above telemedicine facts, the fundamentals are simple and can lead to strong benefits for both physicians and patients.