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What Are the Differences Between Telehealth & In-Person Care?

Technology has helped make quality healthcare more accessible than ever, which has led many people to seek out telehealth as an alternative to their primary care.

Telehealth services allow patients to connect to healthcare providers remotely. But other than that, what are the main differences between virtual and in-person care? Which is best for your healthcare needs? In this blog, we’ll be exploiting the differences between the two so you can pick the best option for you.

What Are the Benefits of Telehealth?

Telehealth has become increasingly popular in recent years, and technology has made it possible to get most of your primary care needs met by a telehealth provider. When you choose a telehealth provider, you’ll receive your care via video, phone, or messaging. Telehealth also offers several major advantages over in-person care, such as:

  • Convenience - Telehealth patients don’t have to leave the comfort of their homes to connect with their primary care provider. Your appointments are on your schedule, so you don’t have to take off work or school. Also, you don’t have to worry about commuting to and from the doctor’s office, spending time in a waiting room, or waiting to speak to the doctor. You get connected to your appointment immediately and are ready to go.
  • Accessibility - Accessibility is another major advantage of telehealth. Patients in rural or remote areas can access quality care they may not have been able to receive otherwise. Also, patients with mobility issues can easily connect with a virtual provider rather than going through the arduous process of going to an in-person clinic.
  • Comfort - With telehealth, you’ll always be comfortable in your environment because you’ll be at home.
  • Avoiding illness - With telehealth, there are no waiting rooms or sick patients near you. This can help you avoid infectious illness and is especially beneficial for immunocompromised individuals.
  • Coordinated care - Coordinating care is easier with telehealth. With providers like Circle Medical, you can make appointments through the app, track your treatment, schedule check-ins, manage prescriptions, and more.

The benefits of telehealth are clear, but that doesn’t mean it is void of disadvantages. Let’s take a look at some of the primary disadvantages next.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

Telehealth might not always be the ideal solution for everyone. Here are some of the main disadvantages of telehealth:

  • No physical examinations - While your telehealth provider can still diagnose based on symptoms and visual checks, a physical examination is sometimes necessary. However, your telehealth provider can still order blood work and refer you to nearby labs for tests when necessary.
  • Technology limitations - For telehealth to be as effective as possible, you will need a reliable internet connection along with a computer or smartphone. Not everyone has access to these technologies, which can make telehealth inaccessible.

It is important to weigh these potential disadvantages against the benefits of telehealth and consider individual needs and circumstances when deciding between virtual and in-person care. Next, let’s take a look at some of the main benefits of in-person care.

What Are the Benefits of In-person Care?

While telehealth has revolutionized healthcare and made it more accessible, in-person care still offers some advantages. These advantages include:

  • Physical examinations - An in-person provider can perform a comprehensive physical examination.
  • Diagnostic testing - If blood work and other diagnostic testing are needed, an in-person provider may be able to conduct them during your visit.
  • In-person interaction - Some people prefer to speak to their doctor in person. If this is a personal preference, in-person care might still be your best option.

Overall,  in-person care remains a viable and sometimes essential component of modern healthcare. Depending on a patient's specific needs, opting for traditional in-person care over a virtual visit may be necessary.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

While in-person care is the norm, it does have its disadvantages. Here are a few of them:

  • Time and Convenience - An in-person doctor’s visit can easily take over your day. Coordinating a visit around school, work, children, and other aspects of daily life can be challenging. You also have to make the commute to your appointment, sit in the waiting room, and deal with the other little inconveniences that come with in-person care.
  • Exposure to illness - Going to an in-person clinic can expose you to contagious illnesses, even if you’re mitigating exposure with a mask. This can be especially high risk for immunocompromised patients. 
  • Limited access to quality care - Those in remote areas or those with mobility issues may find it difficult to get to the doctor to receive quality primary care.

While in-person care still plays a crucial role in healthcare, telehealth is proving to be a game-changer for many patients. It's essential to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of both options when choosing your healthcare provider

When To Choose Telemedicine?

With all the advantages and disadvantages of telehealth and in-person care, you have the information you need to answer the question – is telehealth right for me? 

Generally, telehealth is ideal in the following scenarios:

  • You need routine care - Telehealth services can help with a wide variety of conditions, and routine care is more than possible with a virtual provider. However, an in-person provider may still be the best option if you have a more complex medical situation where you frequently go in-office for care.
  • You lack easy access to healthcare services - Telehealth is ideal for those who don’t have easy access to quality healthcare. Rather than driving miles to a clinic, you can get care from the comfort of your home.

Remember that telehealth providers can also refer you to specialists when necessary. They can even order blood work. They will simply schedule an appointment for you at a nearby lab, and then your provider can interpret the results over the phone. Modern telehealth has evolved to the point where you can get many of the same services you would receive from an in-person provider. Other than emergency medical situations, telehealth can be a convenient and comfortable way to receive care.

How To Choose Between Virtual and In-Person Doctors Visits

As telehealth gains popularity and becomes more accessible, you may be weighing the choice to switch to virtual doctor visits. To help make the right choice, consider the following factors:

  • The nature of your condition - If you have a chronic condition that requires monitoring or physical exams, or medication that needs to be administered by a physician, in-person care may be the better option. On the other hand, for mild symptoms, general wellness check-ups, diagnoses, and preventive care, virtual visits can be just as effective.
  • Accessibility - Telehealth can be more convenient for those who have mobility issues or live in rural areas. Consider choosing telehealth if quality care isn’t easily accessible to you.
  • Personal preference - Finally, remember that you are your own advocate for your healthcare. If you prefer in-person visits, then that is what you should choose. If you prefer telehealth, then that is the right option for you.

No matter which option you choose, the most important thing is you receive quality healthcare that meets your needs.

The Future of Healthcare

Healthcare is an industry that continues to evolve rapidly, and telehealth continues to grow in its capabilities. For now, it seems like the future of healthcare will be a combination of telehealth and in-person care. 

This hybrid model allows patients to get the convenience of telehealth and get in-person testing and screening when needed. In short, the future of healthcare is bright for patients as quality care becomes more accessible and convenient for everyone.

Talk to a Telehealth Provider Today

If you’ve decided on telehealth as the right care path, the best time to get started is today! Telehealth offers many of the same services as primary care, with the added convenience of talking to your provider from the comfort of your home. If you’re looking for a quality primary care provider, choose Circle Medical.

Get Treatment with Circle Medical

Circle Medical is a full virtual primary care clinic with over 200 board-certified primary care providers ready to help you on your health journey. Through our app, you can speak to your provider over video or on the phone and get referrals to specialists or in-person labs when necessary. Best of all, you can get started as soon as possible with a same-day appointment. Schedule your appointment with a Circle Medical provider today!

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