Telemedicine Is Not the Equivalent of In-person Care


With improvements in technology, telemedicine has become increasingly popular, and increased 154% in March 2020 compared with 2019 because of the pandemic. Yet despite its advantages, virtual care cannot reach the highest level of medical care that is only achievable through direct physical interaction with patients, writes Paul Dibble, M.D., in the summer issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Dibble practices family medicine in Magnolia, Texas.

Disadvantages of virtual care that he mentions include significant errors in at-home measurements; lack of emotional connection; reduced ability to perceive subtle body language; potentially compromised privacy; inability to perform a thorough physical examination; technological difficulties; and the risk of excessive testing and overtreatment.

There are benefits just from the process of an in-person visit, Dr. Dibble writes. And the physical examination is a critical element of medical care. Besides the objective information gathered, “even the physical interaction itself has value. Humans need direct, in-person interactions; they need to be touched.”

Dr. Dibble concludes that while telemedicine can be a useful adjunct, it carries significant risks and cannot replace the direct in-person patient-physician relationship.

Read Full Article:

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.