Patients are finding the virtues and pitfalls of telemedicine apps during their wide adoption.

Patients who had to flock to hospitals for the slightest inconveniences are now finding an alternative in Telemedicine. More and more people are now adopting Telemedicine to receive care that “is less intimate than having a doctor sitting at your bedside but more personal than sitting on your doctor’s exam table.” [Marion Renault in The Atlantic]

Patients believe that Telemedicine App Solution has the potential to improve the quality of care and transform healthcare permanently, but it needs to overcome a few obstacles to achieve that.

Want to know what are the unique benefits of Telemedicine applications over the traditional doctor visit (i.e., Likes of patients), what are the obstacles of it (i.e., dislikes of patients), and how can it overcome those obstacles? Read this blog to understand.

What Do Patients Like About Telemedicine?

There are plenty of benefits of Telemedicine for patients, from reduced waiting times to substantial cost savings.

  • As there is no physical contact in Telemedicine between the patient and the doctor, the Telemedicine app eliminates the possibility of transmitting infectious diseases between patients and doctors.
  • It allows the patients to access health care without leaving the comfort of their homes.
  • It also helps customers to save money on travel expenses and other related costs.
  • They can consult with the specialists who were not available to them otherwise.
  • Another reason behind this is that doctors can actually seem more attentive on-screen.
  • Telemedicine is lifesaving when there is an issue with the physical movement of critical patients.
  • Patients like the time saved by Telemedicine. In regular hospital visits, patients needed to make time not just for the session itself but for getting to and from the therapist's office. Whereas in telemedicine, patients only need to make time for the session itself - not for traveling and waiting in the clinics or hospitals' long lines.
  • Patients can even show their home setting to the doctor when they need to be under controlled atmospheres for recovery. This is possible because Telemedicine allows doctors to observe patients' symptoms in real-time and in their typical surroundings. This might be a subjective advantage as many people might not be willing to show their home setting to their doctor.

What Do The Patients Dislike About Telemedicine?

Although the Telemedicine platform most often results in improved care, it's not always the case that those visits result in better care as there are some obstacles in telemedicine.

Internet disconnection issues:
When there’s an internet connection issue during the visit, a patient needs to wait for a few hours before their turn comes up again.

Hesitancy in showing their home environment:
The other obstacle with the Telemedicine solution is that a patient needs to find a quiet spot at home during the session, where they won’t be interrupted or overheard.
Along the same lines, Kirby Randolph, a medical historian at Kansas City University, opines that for patients who like to keep their personal lives private, virtual visits can be difficult. She adds that "A lot of patients don't want the doctor to see their home environment, because they're self-conscious."

Problems with communicating to the doctor:
Some patients are not articulate enough to describe their bodily concerns to the doctor, creating a communication gap between the doctor and the patient.

Complicated to use for elderly patients:
The system can often be complicated for elderly patients who are first-time users and not so tech-savvy.

Privacy & Security Concerns:
There are some privacy and security risks that can badly affect patients’ level of trust and willingness to adopt and use Telemedicine. The risks that Telemedicine poses to the privacy and security of patients’ health information. Privacy risks include a lack of control over the collection, use, and sharing of patients' data. And the security risks include unauthorized access to data during collection, transmission, or storage.

What Needs To Be Done to Eliminate These Dislikes?

  • Well-developed Telemedicine app aims to reduce or eliminate real-world sources of patient stress like traffic, parking, and crowded waiting areas. So, they should not create problems of their own like poor video interface, buggy software, etc.
  • Many problems that patients have with Telemedicine have arisen because of improper or hurried implementation of Telemedicine. They can be solved if organizations develop a central resource team to scale up telemedicine operations efficiently and support patient, provider, and clinic-workflow needs.
  • The system should be easy-to-use, and the learning curve should be as minimum as possible.
  • While not every visit can be done virtually, every visit shouldn’t be done offline as well. This report from the HBR finds that almost half of the care could be provided effectively by virtual means. The hospitals should implement a hybrid operational model wherein they give the option of Telemedicine along with a physical visit and give equal priority to both methods in the future.

2 Unsung Phenomena of Telemedicine:

      1. Overcoming White-coat Syndrome: 

Doctor visits, apart from the burden of transportation and infrastructure, are very difficult for people with ‘white-coat syndrome.’ What does this term mean?

It refers to the phenomenon where patients present a variation in their conditions like blood pressure (BP) when assessed in the doctors’ office or in out-of-office settings. This is due to the anxiety or fear induced by the presence of a doctor or hospital settings in general. That’s why it is referred to as a white-coat syndrome. In Telemedicine, home tests can better capture a patient’s usual BP.

      2. Eliminating clinic-induced stress: 

This phenomenon holds true for cognitive tests as well because doctor examinations in the clinic often induce unease, while patients are more clear-minded and relaxed in their homes, so test anxiety is reduced.

As a geriatrician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Julia Loewenthal explains that some patients perform better on cognitive tests for dementia when they take the tests during a Telemedicine visit in the comfort of their own homes.

Conclusion:

Telemedicine app development is a brilliant complementary and sometimes - an alternative solution to physical hospital visits. It signals a shift in patients' experience and expectations as it challenges the belief that healthcare exists only in hospital settings. It also offers a virtual visit with the doctor while remaining at home. The patients appreciate the convenience of virtual visits; it still has room for improvements. The seamless and low-friction experience will be critical for sustained usage.