Before the pandemic, doctors’ offices and insurance companies urged patients to use telehealth and other similar services for many types of common doctor visits. As the world changed during the pandemic, these virtual visits became increasingly common.
While these virtual visits are convenient, there are certain limitations to making a diagnosis remotely. When doctors give you the wrong diagnosis, it can lead to serious consequences.
Here’s what you should know about the risk of misdiagnosis during a virtual doctor visit.
Limitations on telemedicine
While medical professionals can diagnose and provide treatment options for more conditions than at the beginning of virtual visits, there are still limits. In many cases, telemedicine is for illnesses with distinct symptoms that are simple to differentiate from other conditions.
When doctors learn to diagnose and treat patients, they typically do not learn how to do it in a virtual setting. When working virtually, your doctor relies on an image or video that could give a misleading perspective.
Being an informed patient
Whether you visit your doctor through a virtual visit or you go into their clinic, you should be aware of your symptoms and aim to learn what you can about your condition. There are ways you can help your doctor make an informed diagnosis, including:
- Keeping a journal of symptoms
- Tracking and recording your pain and discomfort
- Learning about potential treatment options
- Creating goals for your care and recovery
When you are prepared for your appointment, it can help the doctor understand your needs and help them make a more accurate diagnosis.
You may need an in-person visit
Being an informed patient does not end at the appointment. After your virtual visit, you should learn more about your diagnosis and the treatment plan outlined by your care provider.
If your diagnosis or treatment plans do not make sense, are not effective, or you are questioning the diagnosis, you should schedule an appointment to meet in the clinic setting. There could be details about your condition that are easier to address in person, or your doctor may have made a mistake.