Telemedicine is often discussed in the context of delivering high quality care and improving patient outcomes. Both angles need to be addressed in any discussions of advancing telemedicine’s capabilities. But there is something else that needs to be part of the discussion: patient choice.
We Americans love the freedom to choose. Choice is part of our national DNA. We chose to break away from Great Britain more than 240 years ago. Throughout our nation’s history, we have chosen to be different. We have chosen to do things differently, to see things differently, and to pursue a course of action different to many other nations. So why should choice be absent from something as fundamental as healthcare?
It should not be, which is why developing better telemedicine solutions should be a priority. Technologies like telemedicine screening and healthcare kiosks should be mainstream to the extent that consumers have as many choices as possible for receiving healthcare services.
Visiting at the Office
Patients should have the choice to visit a provider’s office to receive healthcare services. That choice is pretty standard. In fact, our entire model of healthcare delivery is built on that premise. Even the strongest proponents of telemedicine do not advocate taking the office choice away. Patients and providers who choose to meet in-person will continue doing so for the foreseeable future.
Office visits offer the benefit of face-to-face conversations that can help build stronger relationships between providers and patients. In addition, some forms of testing and diagnoses can only be conducted in person. So of course, the in-person model will not be completely eliminated by telemedicine improvements.
Visiting With Providers Online
Likewise, patients should have the choice to visit with their providers online. Sometimes, going to the office doesn’t make a lot of sense. It is time consuming and somewhat impractical. Having the capability of visiting through a telemedicine app gives consumers a more convenient way to seek out healthcare delivery.
It is hard to argue against the convenience telemedicine offers. A telemedicine session doesn’t require commuting. It does not require taking a half day, or more, off from work just to successfully make it to a scheduled medical appointment. You schedule your visit online. When the time comes, you bring up an app and get to it. Easy.
From the provider’s perspective, telemedicine represents a choice for expanding a practice without having to increase the practice’s physical footprint. How is this possible? By making use of health screening solutions and medical kiosks with full diagnostic capabilities.
Packing a Lot of Technology
There is a tendency among providers too falsely assume that the totality of telemedicine is video conferencing. In other words, providers misunderstand both the intent and capabilities of modern telemedicine solutions. Today’s telemedicine goes way beyond video chat and basic healthcare screening.
Imagine operating a primary care office along with a retail satellite across town. The retail clinic is staffed by nurses and accommodates walk-in visits. It is all made possible by state-of-the-art telemedicine solutions from a Texas company known as CSI Health.
CSI Health kiosks feature a range of diagnostic capabilities including temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and more. All diagnostic data is sent to the provider’s office in real time, thereby allowing the doctor access to all the same information they would have if the patient were visiting in-person.
Telemedicine is really about choice. It is about giving doctors another choice for providing care and patients another choice for receiving that care. In a country that puts so much emphasis on choice, it seems like expanding telemedicine would be a no-brainer.