Korean physicians remain skeptical about telemedicine even though the nation has embraced the era of 5G, the fifth-generation telecom technology, a survey found. Telemedicine makes it difficult to identify the health status of a patient accurately, they said.
Intermd, an online site for knowledge sharing among physicians, surveyed 507 doctors and found that 61.4 percent of them were against the idea of using information technology to provide healthcare at a distance.
Twenty-four percent of the respondents were “very negative” about telemedicine, and 37.7 percent, “negative.” However, 68 percent of them agreed that “5G will affect telemedicine or the environment for medical care.”
Doctors associated telemedicine with “video consultation” (58 percent) the most (in multiple responses). About 42 percent said telemedicine was “a sharing of information about diseases among physicians at a distance.” Thirty-seven percent said it was “a doctor’s giving of medical records, medical imaging and pathology photos,” 35 percent, “a provision of data from a patient’s wearable device,” and 31 percent, “a provision of a doctor’s opinion on medical data such as electrocardiogram through a smartphone.”
Physicians worried the most that telemedicine might make it challenging to identify a patient’s condition accurately, with 84 percent of the respondents saying so, in a multiple-answer survey.
Sixty-one percent said telemedicine would prompt patients to visit large-sized hospitals only and jeopardize small clinics, and 47 percent worried that it could lead to a reckless leak of patients’ information and expose the data to criminals and hackers.
To a question whether telemedicine will enhance patients' health, 40 percent said, “Yes,” and another 40 percent, “No.”
“Most doctors said the first consultation has to be face-to-face even if the government allows telemedicine,” Intermd said in the survey report.
Even through face-to-face consultation, physicians can miss a diagnosis of many kinds of diseases. As Korea has excellent accessibility to hospitals and clinics, telemedicine will do more than harm than good, they thought, it added.
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