This article is sponsored by one of the fastest-growing telehealth companies in America, Antidote Health.
It’s understandable - healthy even, that patients who are newcomers to telemedicine would approach this newly burgeoning sector of healthcare with a certain level of skepticism. After all, telemedicine has only very recently become in vogue, with the COVID-19 pandemic greatly exacerbating the demand for online therapists, online pharmacies, and online doctor care.
To give you an idea of the exponential scale of that demand growth, a December 2021 study from the Department of Health and Human Services approximated that telemedicine use surged 63-fold over the course of the pandemic - and that was just accounting for Medicare telehealth services alone!
In a relatively short span of time, the telehealth industry has seen unprecedented growth, and understandably so, an unprecedented influx of curious people with questions. Even in a time when there’s more information readily at our fingertips than at any other point in human history, it can still be difficult for patients to parse out the correct answers to their questions when so much misinformation, myths, and misconceptions are floating about the internet.
If you’re feeling any pangs of anxiety or uncertainty that are making you feel hesitant about the idea of using telemedicine, we’d like to dispel those hesitancies right here, and right now. Here are some common telehealth myths and misconceptions, and some cogent answers to dispel these misconceptions.
1. Your Medical Info Isn’t Secure
It’s entirely warranted to be concerned about sensitive health data getting compromised in a telemedicine setting. Data breaches are a disturbingly common issue around the world, and doubly disturbing when they impact particularly sensitive data points like the sort around your most intimate health information. From 2009 to 2021, roughly 4,419 healthcare data breaches seizing 500 medical records or more were reported to the HHS Office For Civil Rights.
(See this HIPAA Journal report on healthcare data breaches for more info.)
Fortunately, most respected telehealth providers take these privacy concerns very seriously. Their platforms are often supplanted with additional security measures and encryption technologies to anonymize your data. Moreover, telehealth providers are required to comply with HIPAA privacy standards, much like in-person hospitals and health centers. We would recommend reading multiple telehealth provider reviews and feedback comments from patients to thoroughly verify if a telehealth platform’s privacy standards are up to snuff.
2. Online Doctors Aren’t “Real” Doctors
Some patients may be operating under the mistaken, erroneous assumption that because the services of telehealth providers have been newly popularized in the post-COVID era, then that must mean the services and service providers themselves are “new” and lack the sufficient, adequate experience necessary to treat you. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Telehealth’s popularity may be relatively “new”, but the strategies, standards, and telehealth services offered by these telemedicine providers are far from new. Believe it or not, concepts for telehealth services have even been proposed as far back as the 1920s, long before the Internet ever even came into existence! (Ochsner Health).
Verified online doctors have years of experience, expertise, and the education background sufficient to corroborate their knowledge. Although the scope of services that they can perform is obviously limited over the Internet versus an in-person doctor’s office, you can rest assured that a verified online doctor has sufficient expertise and knowledge to treat you.
3. An Online Doctor Can’t Write The Prescriptions You Need
If your online doctor virtually diagnoses you with a condition and deems that medication is necessary to treat it, they are legally allowed to prescribe said medication and write you a prescription for as long as you need it. Of course, this depends on the legality of the medicine in your state, but provided it’s allowed, an online doctor should be able to write you any script deemed medically necessary.
You could even have those prescriptions delivered directly to your door via an online pharmacy platform. Depending on the platform, you may even be able to have your prescriptions written and refilled by the same provider. Better yet, you can even find ways to save on medications, even if you're uninsured and underinsured, at in-person pharmacies, with drug cost reduction programs like Antidote Health’s Pharmacy Discount Card.
4. Online Doctors Can Only Cover Urgent Care
Virtual urgent care services are a very important priority for many telehealth and online doctor providers - after all, they don’t call it “urgent care” for no reason. Even so, although urgent care is a key priority, it would be a misnomer to call it the ONLY key treatment area that telehealth providers prioritize. Beyond urgent care, additional critical care priorities for online doctors include:
- Preventative Care
- Early Diagnosis
- Remote Screening
- Mental Healthcare
- Pharmaceutical Prescriptions
- Condition Monitoring
- Daily Condition Management
Telemedicine doesn’t only offer a convenient solution to managing health issues that emerge at random - it offers an excellent solution for those looking to manage and monitor the symptoms of their recurring health issues, from the convenience of their couch.
5. Online Doctor Care Is Too Expensive
It’s no secret that the United States healthcare system has been known to carry exceedingly high price tags - according to a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans are on the hook for roughly $195 billion in combined medical debt. With that in mind, it logically follows that patients would be concerned about the potentially exorbitant costs of telemedicine, just as they are about the costs associated with in-person healthcare.
Fortunately, you’ll be reassured to know that telemedicine often offers patients a convenient, useful means to save money and cut back on costs associated with their care. By counting on virtual visits, you can curtail your medical expenses significantly. There’s less upfront costs associated with most telemedicine services, and by intercepting a life-threatening diagnosis, you’re more likely to save both time and money in the long run.
Moreover, many online telehealth providers are focused on closing gaps relating to high costs in the American healthcare system - Antidote Health being one of them.
6. I Couldn’t Afford An Online Doctor Without Insurance
A multitude of telemedicine providers - Antidote Health included - are geared toward making general wellness affordable for even the uninsured and underinsured. Better yet, they allow patients to have more autonomy over their finances, medical record management, and family medical plans.