Medicine is not a stranger to technological innovations. Telemedicine and AI have been transforming how medicine is being practiced and how both professionals, and patients benefit from healthcare.
Today, it is no longer required to fly hundreds of miles to get an expert medical opinion. One can send all necessary medical files through the internet and have a video consultation conference with multiple professionals on any case.
Undoubtedly, the potential of telemedicine is expanding as days pass by. However, there is a concern over how far the telemedicine technologies can reflect the same human factors.
The Future of Telemedicine
Telehealth nowadays is deemed as the direction that medicine is headed towards. Defined as the practice of patient care through technology, telemedicine allow healthcare professionals to offer care without being physically present. The concept is certainly not new. In fact, medical consultations have been practiced since the Civil War. The concept of telemedicine has evolved since then, with applications extending to all urgent scenarios that prevent in-person treatment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought the significance and potential of telemedicine to the surface. It has enabled healthcare authorities to efficiently risk-stratify a large percentage of the population.
In the future, the continuing growth of wireless technologies is expected to lead to virtual health care centers promoting international collaboration, while significantly reducing the expenses. With the right set of regulations, such as HIPAA, telemedicine video conferencing could take place confidently and securely to solve the serious challenges of the healthcare industry. But will it effectively replace face-to-face consultations?
Doctor-Patient Relationship in Telemedicine
The doctor-patient relationship is not only about offering treatment. Many a time, physicians are also carriers of both good and bad news. Though advantageous, telemedicine also comes with a set of troubles for doctors.
During the pandemic, the biggest issue of telemedicine was conveying the bad news. Earlier in 2019, the media reported an incident where a Doctor had to deliver the end-of-life news through a robot, leaving the family frustrated. As unavoidable as it is, surveys suggest that 88% of physicians do not prefer to deliver bad news to patients via telehealth.
However, according to tech experts, technology is not far from adapting to healthcare needs. In the last year, patients have scheduled millions of video-based appointments with doctors. Practicing Doctors say that patients are increasingly choosing to receive care remotely, along with in-person treatments.
Physicians are also encouraging patients to contact them directly through SMS or phones for urgent matters, offering telemedicine a backup. In effect, telemedicine has given the opportunity for better interaction between doctors and patients, even outside of the personal visits. It has allowed for convenience to develop a responsive healthcare system.
Need for Principles along with Solutions
The art and skill of interpersonal skills are extensively taught to all doctors throughout their training. They also play a crucial role in the doctor-patient relationship, often helping to build reliable and long-term involvement between the two parties.
In the paper Technology and Future of Healthcare, Harold Thimbleby recommends that while focusing on integrating technology, there should also be a consideration of culture. The principles of practicing medicine should be a part of the technology-driven future of healthcare. It is evident that telemedicine can help make practices more efficient. Every day sees a new development that could alter medicine. And thus, both doctors and hospital management should be ready to adapt and include their ideals while employing telemedicine, to the best of their ability.