Technology continues to reshape our world, and the healthcare sector is no exception. From AI assisted surgeries to the implementation of blockchain technology for digital record-keeping, we can expect the future of healthcare to look a lot different than it does today. One new interesting phenomenon in healthcare is happening with telemedicine, a term that refers to when patients consult with doctors and other healthcare providers via videocalls, digital photography and/or audio calls.
A new Doximity study shows that Telemedicine is steadily growing in popularity among both patients and doctors. In fact, between 2015 and 2017, telemedicine patient visits increased annually by 261 percent, and in 2018 Global Market Insights showed that this new sector of medicine was worth nearly $40 billion. Those numbers are expected to increase drastically in the coming years as technology enables physicians to better perform virtual consultations and more and more insurance companies begin to cover the service.
The Pros and Cons of Telemedicine
Proponents of telemedicine believe it has many potential benefits. For example, it could extend quality care to people who would otherwise have a hard time accessing a doctor in person, such as folks who live in rural areas or don’t have access to transportation. It is also less expensive than a face-to-face meeting with a doctor, and of course, it’s convenient, since you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own house. Finally, it could be very helpful for patients with chronic conditions, who could choose telemedicine over frequent visits to the doctor.
But while there are plenty of advantages to telemedicine in healthcare, there are also some risks. Listed below are some of the possible drawbacks to telemedicine:
- Incorrect diagnosis or prescriptions. A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that doctors are more likely to overprescribe antibiotics to children via telemedicine visits. Overprescribing can be dangerous because germs can build resistance to antibiotics and create superbugs.
- Standards of care. Rules and regulations in regard to standards of care vary by state, but most states have yet to determine the standards of care for telemedicine. This could lead to complications in the future.
- Fraud. Although doctors and healthcare providers must show their credentials, because everything is done online and off-site, the risk of fraudulent providers is a possibility.
- Data breaches. Patient’s medical data is protected by law, but like everything on the internet, there is always the risk of data breaches.
Although a lot of work still needs to be done to assure patient safety, one thing seems sure: it looks like telemedicine is here to stay.
Contact Knowledgeable Attorneys in Baltimore for a Consultation
The law firm of Schochor and Staton, P.A. has been fighting for the rights of Baltimore medical malpractice victims and their families for over thirty years. If you’ve had a bad experience with telemedicine, give us a call today at 410-234-1000 or contact us online. Our lawyers serve clients in and around Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C.