Comparing In-Office Visits With Telemedicine Visits

Dec 11, 2023
Comparing In-Office Visits With  Telemedicine Visits
Both in-office visits and telemedicine visits offer distinct advantages, and some disadvantages. Learn all about them here.

It used to be if you needed a doctor, you made an appointment and walked or drove over to the office at a prescribed time. You’d wait in the waiting room with a bunch of other patients and were taken back to see the doctor when they were free.

Then came telehealth (telemedicine). With this model, you make an appointment, just as before, but you connect with your doctor over a secure internet platform on whatever device you happen to be using. There’s no need to sit in traffic, get a sitter, or worry about picking up a bug while you sit and wait.

Board-certified family physician Dr. Richard Pedroza at AGP Family Health Clinic offers both in-office and telemedicine/telehealth services for his patients in the clinic in Tomball, Texas. As many conditions can be managed through a virtual meeting, Dr. Pedroza leaves it to the patient to decide which format works better for them.

A brief look at telehealth

Telehealth isn’t a new idea. The first major advancement in the field came in the 1940s, when doctors in Pennsylvania sent radiology images to a location 24 miles away over a simple telephone line. A decade later, a Canadian physician built a dedicated teleradiology system used in and around Montreal.

The first video communication took place at the University of Nebraska in 1959 when the university established a bidirectional television link to send information to medical students across campus. Only five years after that, the medical school linked to a state hospital, performing video consultations. The idea was to give underserved populations access to medical care.

In the 1960s and 1970s, government agencies jumped all in, and soon everyone, not just rural populations, had access to some version of the technology. Even astronauts in orbit could share medical data with doctors back on Earth.

Benefits of telehealth

Despite numerous benefits, telehealth languished for a bit, then received a tremendous boost in early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and everyone, doctors and patients included, needed to practice social distancing. It soon became apparent that telehealth could routinely provide a number of different, important services:

  • Assessing if a patient needs in-person treatment
  • Providing certain kinds of medical care: mental health treatment, assessments for minor infections, and visual inspection of a rash or growth
  • Evaluating and treating sore throats, cold and flu symptoms, or ear infections
  • Writing or renewing prescriptions
  • Chronic disease management
  • Discussion of blood work or other lab results
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Providing different types of therapy, including speech and physical therapy

None of these require the doctor and patient to be in the same room.

Benefits of in-office visits

Sometimes, though, you do need a hands-on inspection of a problem or a test that requires physical contact. In these cases, coming into AGP Family Clinic is the right thing to do.

An in-office visit is best for:

  • Blood tests
  • Throat cultures
  • Urine cultures
  • EKGs
  • Annual physical exams
  • Routine measurement of blood pressure and other vital signs
  • Some types of physical therapy, such as massage
  • Any suspicious-looking skin growth or swelling that needs a biopsy

All of these require perso-to-person contact, which means you have to come into the office. If you’re concerned about disease transmission during your visit, we encourage you to wear an appropriate mask to remain safe and protect others.

Don’t know whether you should schedule an in-person or telehealth visit with AGP Family Clinic? Call our friendly office staff for advice at 832-684-3909, or book your appointment online with us today.