The Pros and Cons of Telemedicine to Treat Hepatitis C
Telemedicine has become more popular through the years. Increased access and improvements to technology mean that telemed can provide medical care for a range of patient needs. Since the COVID pandemic, telemedicine has sky-rocketed in popularity, including providing care for those with hepatitis C. While the effectiveness of tele-med over in-person care can be debated, there are pros and cons for changing the landscape of treatment for hepatitis C to focus on telemedicine.
Pros of telemedicine for hep C
If you've never used telemedicine before, here are some possible benefits:1-3
- Decreases travel time to the doctor’s office
- Decreases loss of work time
- Allows for more patient privacy
- Decreases late appointment arrival and appointment cancellation
- Allows access to care when a patient has a compromised immune system and lessens exposure to other patients, or when a patient is not able to travel
- Beneficial for follow-up appointments to discuss test results, medication changes, or questions
- Increases the opportunity for patients living in remote areas to receive care
- Increases access to discuss medication and concerns with specialty pharmacist and your healthcare team
- Caretakers can stay at home with the patient
- Increases care for incarcerated patients
Cons of telemedicine for hep C
But, there may be some concerns about telemedicine, such as:1-3
- Some symptoms or conditions can be missed if unable to do a physical exam
- On-site physical assessment like weight, blood pressure, physical exam, and on-site blood work or other tests cannot be done with a tele-med visit
- Not all patients have access to a computer or device
- Not all patients have computer skills to manage a tele-med visit
- Not all patients feel comfortable with a tele-med visit
When telemedicine can and cannot be used
Depending on the type of care, telemecine may works when a follow-up visit is needed to discuss test results or medication changes, to check on patients during treatment, or when questions or concerns need to be discussed. Telemedicine may not work when physical exams are needed to check for things like swelling, abdominal tenderness, pain, or discomfort.1-3
There is a fine line between what is beneficial and what is not effective for hepatitis C patients. Patients, caregivers, and the healthcare team need to evaluate the needs of each person in order to make the best decision about telemed versus in-person visits.
What has your experience with telehealth been like?
Did you experience early symptoms or warning signs of hep C?