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Telemedicine gives doctors and patients the flexibility they’ve been craving

Author
Katrin Pääsuke Family Nurse

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Telemedicine brings much-needed flexibility to the way doctors work and patients receive their care. Just as in many other traditional sectors, medical professionals haven’t enjoyed the surge in workplace flexibility seen in other fields of professions. Yes, telemedicine is convenient for both the doctor and the patient, but it’s not just a matter of trivial comfort. It also translates to bigger efficiency, better safety and overall quality of care. 

These are some biggest benefits doctors – and their patients – get from using telemedicine. 

1. Job satisfaction and flexibility

Remote work gets all the rave right now. Even before the COVID-19, there was a 44% growth in remote work in the U.S. over the last 5 years. The pandemic has most probably skyrocketed these numbers, as countries all over the world are implementing quarantine and social distancing precautions. Remote works statistics indicate benefits across the board, ranging from environmental to performance-oriented benchmarks. 

Up until recently, remote work hasn’t been possible for practicing medical professionals due to obvious reasons. But research shows that nearly half of the workload that comes into general practice can be dealt with digitally. This way, remote doctors can also experience 80% less job stress and 57% more satisfaction, as the average remote worker. 

2. Efficiency

Digital appointments save time and money for both the patients and doctors. Patients lose time on commuting and waiting times alone – and this time piles up quickly if they have conditions that require frequent regular appointments. Virtual appointments enable bigger flexibility to schedule appointments, giving emergency consultations and reduce “No-Shows” and wasted time. 

3. Safety

In-person visits to the doctor’s office pose a health threat on their own. Channeling all non-essential appointments to digital channels means less exposure for both doctors AND patients. 

4. Better access to healthcare

Just 40% of the EU population lives in cities – the rest live in rural areas, towns, and suburbs. In addition to mere travel distances, there are also people who have an overall harder time accessing the health facilities, e.g. people with disabilities, the elderly, parents of little children, etc. in the case of more rare medical fields, seeing a specialist can even mean traveling hundreds of kilometers. Telemedicine saves them the trip to a health facility and offers face-to-face care at the comfort of their homes. This also opens up practitioners’ patient base to people outside of their geographic region. 

5. Overall better experience

Just as appointment viewing TV is history among the youths, so is showing up at your doctor’s office waiting room. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, two-fifths of Americans aged 22-38 sought routine medical services virtually. People have come to expect a certain level of flexibility in their day-to-day tasks and seeing the doctor shouldn’t be an exception. 

Telemedicine is bridging the gap between people, physicians, and health systems, offering everyone an easy to use, safe and efficient alternative to traditional doctor’s appointments. This helps focus the resources on what matters the most – having a personal contact and providing high-quality care in an accessible and timely manner. 

Used sources: 

  • Telemedicine during COVID-19: Benefits, limitations, burdens, adaptation. Healthcare IT News (19.03.2020) 
  • Would you be happy to see your doctor online? BBC News (12.02.2019)
  • Remote Work Statistics: Shifting Norms and Expectations. FlexJobs (13.02.2020)

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