You have probably spent more time than ever this year talking to friends, family and colleagues via video. If you have, you will know it is not the same as the real thing. While there is less room for misinterpretation than chatting via email or text messaging, you still miss some of the subtle signals you catch when face to face. One area where this is particularly worrying is telehealth or telemedicine. Talking to a doctor online has taken off in a big way this year, yet it comes with considerable risks.
Telemedicine makes it harder for doctors to make the correct diagnosis.
Think back to when you visit a doctor’s surgery. They see how you walk in the room; they know any pain as you bend to sit down; they can reach out and prod parts of your body to see where the pain is. There is ample scope for them to pick up little indicators of what the problem may be.
Now imagine doing that via a video call. A doctor does not see you move around. There is no chance for them to feel a part of your body for lumps, soreness or any other indicator of your illness. The possibility of a missed or wrong diagnosis is greater than ever.
Is my information safe when dealing with a doctor online?
When dealing with a doctor via the internet, there is an increased risk that someone else can access your confidential data, which medical professionals have a duty to protect. Hackers could use this information to commit fraud.
While telemedicine has a place, medical practitioners need to employ the utmost care to use it if they need to use it at all. They still have a duty of care toward you as their patient, and any breach of that duty could cause you serious harm, meriting a medical malpractice claim.