Telemedicine vs in-person doctor visits: Which is better?

With the rise of telehealth and video doctor visits during the pandemic, many people have experienced virtual medicine for the first time. As we transition out of the pandemic, people are left wondering – is telemedicine really better than seeing a doctor in person? Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each type of visit to help you decide what works best for your situation:

Convenience: Telemedicine provides a huge convenience factor that traditional office visits can’t match. You can have a video visit from the comfort of your own home, without ever having to take time off work, drive to an appointment, or sit in a waiting room. This is perfect for treating minor illnesses, getting prescription refills, or following up on an existing condition.

Cost: In general, telehealth visits are cheaper than in-person visits. Doctors don’t have the overhead costs of running a physical office, so they can pass those savings on to you. However, insurance coverage varies, so check your plan specifics.

Time Savings: Nearly eliminating your travel and wait time allows you to get medical care much more quickly through telehealth. Video visits often take less time than an office appointment too.

Diagnostics: The physical exam, diagnostic tests, and ability to see detailed images with an in-person doctor can’t be matched by virtual visits. Telehealth works well for many issues, but serious illnesses or new health problems are better managed through traditional office visits.

Personability: Some people prefer the more personal connection that comes from seeing their doctor face-to-face. Telehealth visits, while convenient, lose some of that interpersonal interaction.

Telemedicine has many great advantages around convenience, time, and cost for minor issues. But for complex health problems, follow-ups that require testing, or if you just prefer an in-person exam, traditional visits at your doctor’s office are likely your best bet. Consider your own situation and health needs to decide which approach will work best. And know that many doctors now offer both options.

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