Inside Scoop | Nursing Practices

The Pros and Cons of Telehealth

  • Telehealth is a technology-driven service that connects patients to health and medical care services through remote monitoring, videoconferencing, wireless communication, and electronic consults. 
  • Telehealth has advantages, such as easy and quick access to specialists, lower costs, medical access for those in rural or underserved areas, reduced exposure to pathogens, and reduced anxiety. 
  • Telehealth does not take the place of an in-person appointment but can be a useful tool for those who are unable to commute or prefer to take a medical appointment from the comfort of their own home. 

Amy White

RN-MSN – Chief Nursing Officer

March 10, 2023
Simmons University

Telehealth is a nationwide system used by many Americans. While this technology has been available for decades, it has gained significance over the past several years, especially during COVID-19 as it became critical to provide accessible patient care while minimizing the risk of exposure.  

In our technology-driven society, it is understandable how this form of medical care is in place. Still, it is essential to assess telehealth holistically to determine if it is the best approach for everyone.  

Many factors determine the best approach to healthcare based on the medical situation, time of day, urgency, and the need to be seen face-to-face.  

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of telehealth and its value in the modern healthcare system.  



pros and cons of telehealth healthcare

The Importance of Telehealth

Telehealth connects patients to health and medical care services through remote monitoring, videoconferencing, wireless communication, and electronic consults. This service has been made possible thanks to improved infrastructure and the widespread use of devices like smartphones and computers.  

Telehealth ensures that patients receive appropriate care at both the right place and time. Most of the Medicaid programs offer some form of coverage for telehealth, but it seems that private payers are typically the ones embracing coverage for many of these services. 

Medicare generally limits payment and coverage for many telehealth services, which creates limitations to telehealth usage for those on the program. The federal government has been asked to assist in utilizing more avenues for the use of telehealth, but at present, it seems to be a slow work in progress. The importance of telehealth is not recognized everywhere, but as education expands, many more will begin to understand its benefits.  

Typically, the telehealth visit enables video or phone appointments between a healthcare provider and the patient. While this type of appointment is a fantastic fit for some patients, it creates barriers for others. This is just one example of the pros and cons of telehealth healthcare.

Types of Telehealth

Telehealth is all around us, from the upcoming appointment reminder SMS messages to post-visit email surveys. Telehealth is a substantial part of today’s society and does not seem to be diminishing anytime in the future.  

Telehealth is comprised of four distinct types: 

Live Video

The most well-known type of telehealth consists of a live, two-way video-based conference between a patient and their healthcare provider. It is widely used, from physicians in local hospitals to providers who have their own private practices.

This type of telehealth eliminates commute time and stress for the provider and the patient. It also assists with bringing healthcare to rural areas that do not have as many healthcare options as urban areas.   


This form of telehealth consists of a healthcare provider’s electronic delivery of a patient’s documented health history outside of real-time.

It is commonly used in rural areas where a provider may consult with another provider in a different location. It also assists in bringing healthcare to areas where specialists are limited or non-existent.  

Patient Monitoring

This type of telehealth is often used for seniors or in senior living areas. It involves collecting a patient’s health data from one location and sending it electronically to a healthcare professional (such as a medical provider or nurse.)

This type of monitoring is successful in senior living areas where falling is a risk. It allows for continuous monitoring without spatial limitations.  

Mobile Health

This type of telehealth consists of using smart devices, such as tablets and smartphones, in conjunction with health-based software apps that support the implementation of continued healthcare.

Multiple apps can monitor a patient’s blood sugar, vital signs, daily water intake, and other items that can be viewed and monitored effectively while the patient remains at home, school, or work.   

pros and cons of telehealth

Advantages of Telehealth

It is essential to understand the pros and cons of telehealth to determine if telehealth is the right choice for each individual.  

Some of the advantages of telehealth include: 

  • Easy and quick access to specialists  
  • Lower costs 
  • Medical access for those individuals in rural areas  
  • Medical access for those in underserved urban areas 
  • Medical access for those without health insurance  
  • Middle-of-the-night care for babies and children 
  • No need for childcare  
  • Reduced exposure to pathogens  
  • Physicians can stay at home 
  • Insurance reimbursement 
  • Reduced overhead medical costs  
  • Support for those with chronic conditions 
  • Emergency psychiatric care 
  • Online psychiatric support  
  • Reduced anxiety from the comfort of one’s home 
  • Peer-to-peer support 
  • Physical therapy while at home

Disadvantages of Telehealth

Of course, telehealth is not perfect. It does not eliminate the need for other types of healthcare, like emergencies.  

The following are some of the disadvantages of telehealth: 

  • Does not allow physicians to be able to take blood or urine samples 
  • May prolong the time it takes before a patient receives a diagnosis 
  • Does not allow for physical examinations, including taking vitals or auscultating the lungs, heart, abdomen, and other organs  
  • Other tests such as mammograms, sonograms, pap smears, and eye pressure exams must be done in-person and not virtually  
  • Children who receive services such as speech therapy may have difficulties focusing and working remotely with therapists 
  • Insurance coverage reimbursement varies from state to state and is not guaranteed 

pros and cons of telehealth care

    The Bottom Line

    It is important to keep in mind that telehealth does not take the place of an in-person appointment, but it can be a useful tool for those who are unable to commute or would prefer to take a medical appointment from the comfort of their own home.  

    Of course, telehealth is not ideal for every person and every medical situation. One must compare the pros and cons of telehealth to make the best decision about utilizing this type of healthcare.

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