It used to be that doctors were the ones doing the consult visits and by the patient bedside performing a medical consultation. In modern times, these were replaced with the patient’s going to doctors’ offices and interaction was now happening across the desk. Factoring infection risks and patient comfort, telemedicine provides a necessary alternative — one which may soon become the norm.
The trip to the doctor, a rather uneasy experience for most people, suddenly turns to be a thing of the past. The threat of COVID has put everyone on alert that even periodic out-patient visits have to be second-guessed in light of the risks. Unsustainability and population growth have put an end to doctors doing house calls in the same way that the threat of infection prevents people from showing up in clinics or hospitals.
Regardless of one’s attitude towards the use of technology, it is without a doubt that it has been part and parcel of the way that the practice of medicine continues to evolve. Lab equipment and imaging machines aside, medicine and technology go hand in hand and would continue to do so. Right now, it teams up once again to bring the patient and the doctor together via a screen display.
While there are certain situations where a personal visit is warranted, the use of telemedicine presents a valuable tool in limiting the risks, especially in today’s pandemic. Though talking to a screen would seem to replace the warmth of face-to-face interaction, the cold reality is that telemedicine provides each participant with a level of comfort by being in familiar surroundings. Truth be told, it is probably not telemedicine that makes this interaction awkward because talking virtually with friends is certainly something most of us would look forward to.
Whether face to face or virtual, logic dictates that people heighten their guards when discussing serious topics, and talking about a health issue does fit into that category. A smoker would certainly feel less comfortable being visited in his home by his pulmonologist because it exposes the reality that despite the advice, evidence at home would probably present more of an embarrassment. For years, the privacy of a doctor’s office serves the patient more than the doctor. Using telemedicine, a peek into the patient’s environment seems possible – which yields more valuable information (eg. senior citizens and home hazards like stairs, etc.) but only for those patients who have developed stronger relationships with their providers.
“In essence, COVID-19 has allowed us to lower our psychological barriers to the adoption of technology,” Professor Vishall Ahuja says. “All of a sudden, we realize we’re not as inflexible as we thought we were. We’re not as tech-adverse as we were. Necessity is the mother of invention.”