Telemedicine May Not Be A Cost Effective Solution For All
When telemedicine technology is no longer a technical challenge, many vendors start to compete with service models. However, it is not scaling in the speed that we expected in the past. Some vendors and providers are even suffering lost of time and money when offering telemedicine services to the patient.
A recent study from the University of Wisconsin found that encouraging patients to use online care options increases the number of office visits and phone calls and reduces the number of new patients providers can accept. It suggested that telemedicine has minimal health benefits when increasing the workload of doctors.
Yes, telemedicine provides more choices, flexibilities, and conveniences to patients. The question would be that does an E-visit really solve the issue and treat the disease? I think it would depend on the health problems that the patients have. For some type of health issues, such as skin and low risk (e.g. wellness related symptoms) problems, online health consulting would be viewed as a more cost-effective approach. However, for most of the illnesses, patients usually talk minor symptoms or unclearly describing their situation. The limited online capabilities make doctors feeling more obligated to perform an office visit on patients. This doubles the efforts and time for a physician to see a specific patient.
Telemedicine still has a long way to go, in term of efficiency. Solution providers must carefully evaluate the impacts to physicians when adding new services online.