With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the loosened restrictions on telemedicine in light of the virus, telemedicine has been more prevalent than ever. Telemedicine offers many great features such as lower costs, increased accessibility, convenience of receiving care in your own home, and less risk of being exposed to an infectious disease such as COVID-19. While telemedicine offers an array of benefits, it also has drawbacks. Physicians are unable to conduct physical examinations, not all insurance provides cover telemedicine, and not all people have access to the proper technology to partake in a telemedicine appointment. The rise of telemedicine sparks a difficult question, how do telemedicine and conventional medicine stack up to each other?
The cost of healthcare in the US is astronomically expensive. Millions of Americans cannot receive proper healthcare services because of the cost of the treatment. This makes the cost difference between telemedicine and traditional brick and mortar medicine a very important topic. Telemedicine is generally considered more cost effective than conventional medicine. Because healthcare is provided from the patients home, transportation and transfer expenses are eliminated. An article written by the American Journal of Managed Care asserts that on average virtual appointments cost between $40 to $50, while in person visits cost a whopping $179 on average. This makes telemedicine a more cost effective option.
Even though telemedicine sounds more effective, conventional medicine takes care of the limitations that telemedicine has at the moment. An in-person visit allows a doctor to identify symptoms more effectively. Things such as X-rays and other medical tests require patients to be at the facility in order to collect fresh samples. As conventional medicine takes care of telemedicine’s limitations, telemedicine also takes care of conventional medicine’s limitations. Often, people with diseases such as flu, measles, etc., visit hospitals. As those diseases are contagious, other visitors and workers are at risk of being exposed to those diseases. This is where telemedicine can step in to prevent contagious diseases from spreading.
In terms of accessibility, telemedicine acts like a double-edged sword. On one hand, telemedicine helps connect people living in rural areas with doctors in cities. On the other hand, it requires equipment such as smartphones and computers which could be hard to afford for some people.
In conclusion, telemedicine is more cost effective than the traditional brick and mortar office visits. However, it does have limitations such as collecting fresh samples for medical tests and X-rays. Conventional medicine also has limitations which includes reaching patients that live far away from any healthcare facility. Depending on the type of medical practice, adapting both methods can allow clinics and hospitals to reach more people along with providing convenience and accessibility.