As a leading designer and builder of telemedicine solutions, it is clear that CSI Health is all-in on the telemedicine concept. It’s what we do. It is an industry we firmly believe needs to be developed in order to improve healthcare for future generations. Yet at the same time, we also realize that telemedicine isn’t perfect. It does have its disadvantages.
We are confident that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for most applications. Yet we also encourage customers to take a close look at their own circumstances to best determine what types of telemedicine solutions work best for them. We certainly don’t want anyone investing in things like remote health screening solutions and diagnostic screening tools if such investments are not likely to pay off.
In the interest of fairness, here are the top three disadvantages of telemedicine:
1. Limited Physical Exams
A big concern with telemedicine is the limited nature of doctor-patient consultations. When meeting remotely, it is impossible for a doctor to perform a physical exam on the patient. They must rely on asking the right questions and listening to what the patient says to get the best possible picture of what might be going on. That being the case, telemedicine solutions are not ideal for every care need.
Telemedicine works well for primary care and other scenarios in which the bulk of the interaction between doctor and patient is a conversation. Where physical exams, tests, and other forms of interaction are non-negotiable, in-person visits are more appropriate.
Here at CSI Health, we have been working to make our medical kiosks and health screening solutions more capable for remote consultations. We have done so by designing kiosks and mobile units with built-in diagnostic tools such as infrared thermometers and blood pressure cuffs. These diagnostic tools send data to the clinician’s network in real time, giving the doctor very important information.
2. Significant Startup Costs
Another concern with telemedicine is the amount of money necessary to get started. We won’t lie. Startup costs can be significant depending on the type of hardware and software being purchased. But the thing to remember is that hardware and software are expensive across the healthcare spectrum. High startup costs are not unique to telemedicine.
The other side of the coin is the ability of telemedicine to ultimately pay for itself. Telemedicine can increase a clinician’s efficiency considerably. It allows the clinician to take on a greater patient load without having to expand the office, hire more staff, and so on. These two factors combined should increase revenue. Over time, that revenue pays for the cost of the hardware and software.
3. Regulatory and Industry Issues
Finally, telemedicine faces disadvantages in terms of regulatory and industry issues. On the regulatory front, Medicare and Medicaid have traditionally been resistant to telemedicine. Things temporarily changed during the COVID pandemic, but mainly out of necessity. Medicare and Medicaid are by no means big fans of telemedicine even now, more than two years after COVID came to the U.S.
Some states are also resistant. They don’t allow doctors to practice telemedicine across state lines. They also tightly restrict the types of care clinicians can offer through telemedicine. As for industry issues, they run the gamut from insurance company resistance to actual hospitals and medical groups not wanting to utilize telemedicine.
We firmly believe that telemedicine will only continue to grow until it eventually overtakes the traditional model. During that time, telemedicine will not be without its bumps and bruises. It definitely has its advantages, but in the end, its advantages will win the day.