Telemedicine refers to the emerging trend of using telecommunications technology to deliver medical services such as remote diagnosis and medical learning.

The concept of having consultations with doctors over the web with a phone call or video call is not just convenient and less costly, it can make a lot of sense.

This is especially when one thinks about the number of times he or she has walked into a clinic, answer a few questions, and received a prescription of medicine without having the doctor making physical contact.

They can also better serve patients who are immobile and has trouble going for follow up consultations with doctors.

Pros and cons of telemedicine

The biggest advantage of telemedicine is the convenience and lower costs of consulting with a professional doctor.

But while these advantages are intuitively self-explanatory, there are a lot of challenges that the telehealth industry would struggle with.

Firstly, nothing beats a face-to-face consultation as this allows a doctor to observe the physique of the patient that cannot be replicated over the phone or through pictures.

For example, a rash can look totally different in picture and in real life.

A person looking fatigue can also be less obvious when it is observed during video call.

These are big reasons why services provided in telemedicine is still mostly limited to simple diagnosis and early intervention of potential health problems.

There are also legal challenges as well.

This is because mobile apps that provide telehealth services are often global or regional players. And global recruitment means that their panel of doctors can come from all over the world, professionally registered with different health organizations in different countries.

It does not take a genius to acknowledge that a doctor professional conduct in one country can be viewed differently in another.

So what happens when a patient in Singapore for example, gets attended to by a doctor from the United States? What if a wrong diagnosis lead to serious health consequences? What recourse can the patient take?

There are still a lot of holes in this young industry since the market has yet to figure out the answers.

And filling up the gaps can take up a lot of time as healthcare regulations might have to be amended to effectively tackle such problems.

And this is just one nation we are talking about. Different nations might still have to find some type of satisfactory fusion to link different regulations together.

But while this can seem like a long time to go before telemedicine truly takes off, al the indication is that there is definitely a demand for such services. And it’s only a matter of time (a lot of it) for it to be widely accepted.

At present, it doesn’t seem that insurance companies are interested at all to provide coverage that allow claims for telemedicine consultations.

But because of the economics of it that can potentially bring down insurance policy plans and cater to a wide market, insurers can be expected to go into this space when telemedicine starts to get endorsed by government agencies.

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