Is Digital Doctoring the Right Answer?
It’s no secret that everything that can move online is, so it’s not surprising that healthcare would try to take its abilities digital as well. In comes digital doctoring, a method of diagnosing and/or treating patients online instead of through an office visit. This allows for so many new doors to open, but also leaves a plethora of questions unanswered.
Let’s take a look at the good first. When you’re sick, moving from your bed or couch is the not appealing, let alone getting in a car and going to a doctor’s office. You sit on hard benches with other people coughing their germs all over the place and await your doctor to put a cold stethoscope on your back and have your arm squeezed until it turns blue. Now what if all of this could be avoided, but you still get the medical attention you need? With digital doctoring, this is possible.
Digital doctoring can potentially give you the ability to save sick days as well. Sometimes you need to see a doctor–which will take one hour, maybe two–but you can’t go into work. Maybe you’re at risk of being contagious, or perhaps you have a fever but otherwise feel fine. In these cases (and providing your job allows you to do so), you could take remote day, work from home, and have your digital appointment with your doctor at whatever time is most convenient. With digital doctoring and remote working, you can then save those sick days for when you truly cannot work because of an illness. This also can be beneficial for your company because productivity doesn’t have to decrease when a person is only slightly ill.
With good comes bad, though, and digital doctoring is no exception. At some point in your life, you may have had a doctor who didn’t seem to be listening to you. Many times, doctor’s offices are booked up, meaning your doctor has a limited amount of time to examine your ailments. If your doctor isn’t getting the full picture of your health, you may be misdiagnosed. This results in more sick time, more days off of work, more trips to the doctor, more bills, etc. When we look at digital doctoring, we do run the risk of this happening. Any person who has looked at WebMD knows that having one of two symptoms can be characteristic of an abundance of medical conditions. How can a consistent correct diagnosis be achieved by listing off symptoms?
There is a certain aspect of care that is lost when digital doctoring is in place. For example, how is a doctor supposed to get an accurate look into your ear infection if he cannot physically look into it? How can a strep test be ran when you’re not in the office? How can your doctor feel your swelling to make an accurate diagnosis when she cannot physically feel the affected area? In an article from MedCity News, a doctor shares that being in the room with a person, listening to what they are saying, and being physically present with his patients is what allows him to get a true feeling for what is bothering them and come to a correct conclusion as to what is wrong. Digital doctoring takes those aspects away, and therefore, takes away a personal aspect that people desire when they aren’t feeling well.
Something that hasn’t been highly discussed, however, is that digital doctoring could be a remarkable breakthrough for mental health. With mental illnesses such as depression, the thought of moving from your bed, let alone your home and into a sterile office, can be exhausting. Being able to talk with a doctor using technology from the comfort of your bed could be extremely beneficial. As has been brought to light in the last couple of years, there is a stigma surrounding mental health, and as a result, many who need this care are not seeking it for fear of being associated with the negative stigma. Being able to seek help from your own home can be more comfortable for those who are afraid of taking the first step. This could be a step in the correct direction for so many people that are in need of mental health assessment and care without the fear of going to the office for treatment.
When it comes to digital doctoring, there is still a lot left that needs to be addressed before this concept can be seen as accurate and positive for physical ailments. That being said, this technology can be key in helping improve the mental health industry and expanding the capabilities that this sector can do.
We’ve talked about remote work and health technology in today’s post. If you think your business could benefit from remote working capabilities, or if you are a healthcare provider that could benefit from technology enhancements, Heart Technologies may be the solution for you! See our solutions here, and give us a call at 877.494.3278 for more information.