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Can people get health advice via a video chat? It’s certainly more convenient. There is increasing utilization of these so-called “virtual care” evaluations. What might be missed compared to an in person visit? Will it be more or less satisfying for patients?
One study found that over two thirds of patients surveyed in an American Well survey reported satisfaction with a video visit — compared to one third that preferred office visits — and that most dissatisfaction stemmed from a technical issue with the video software that, if solved, led to positive reviews. One possible explanation for increased satisfaction from video visits is that it cuts down on transportation costs. The telemedicine system has been especially effective in the rural Appalachian region where many patients suffering from cardiovascular disease can now easily access a healthcare professional remotely rather than having to drive several hours to the closest health center. Additionally, remote consultations also allow increased patient independence and engagement, that is, they are more likely to participate in maintaining their own health to avoid in-person visits.
Post operative patients also benefit from telemedicine as an extended hospital stay may contribute to an increased risk of getting hospital-acquired infections. Instead, when they are sent home after a surgery, they are monitored by sensors that report patient vitals and other measures to health professionals remotely so they are still able to access help if something goes wrong. Telemedicine is still developing as a technology and may not serve as a complete replacement for office visits, but rather as a supplement to in-person consultations. However trends indicate that telemedicine is increasing in popularity across the country and chances are, you or someone you know may soon become familiar with telehealth.