What Are the Pros and Cons of Telehealth?

By: Collin Couey on September 28, 2022

If you’re a small to midsize practice owner who is seeking guidance on whether or not to implement telehealth or telemedicine for the first time, and you don’t know if it’s worth doing, you’re in the right place.

The pros of implementing telehealth outweigh the cons if you’re a practice that is looking to attract new patients, improve the patient experience, and improve patient outcomes. In adopting this tech from the start, you stand to benefit from a patient-base that is engaged and excited to use your practice. Healthcare providers who adopt later will still see many benefits, but will lose out on the initial group of patients who are eager to use telemedicine.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Why should you care about telehealth?

Aside from the numerous benefits that telemedicine can offer your healthcare organization, there’s data to suggest that your practice is missing out if you don’t have a telehealth program.

According to our recent 2022 State of Telemedicine Survey[*], 92% of patients say they’re more likely to go with a doctor who has a telemedicine option over one who doesn’t. That number should be a clear indicator that if you haven’t adopted or embraced telehealth for your practice yet, you absolutely should because your patients expect and want it.


While it’s true that COVID-19 drove the mass adoption of telehealth, there’s absolutely no sign that it’s going anywhere in the near future now that patients have gotten used to the ease and convenience that a telehealth appointment offers them.


Even though most practices and patients initially embraced telemedicine because of the pandemic, the majority plan to continue using it. Telehealth isn’t going anywhere.

Additionally, we asked doctors in our 2022 Healthcare Business Survey[**] how they feel about using telemedicine, and over half (62%) rate their experience as positive. Only 16% say their experience was negative.

Not only are patients enjoying the benefits of telemedicine, but healthcare organizations are as well. The simple truth is that if you’re not offering telemedicine or telehealth services to your patients, your competition is, and you’re falling behind the curve.

Pros of telehealth

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not telemedicine is right for your healthcare organization, we’re going to take a look into the specific advantages that come with telehealth.

Pro #1: Telehealth gives rural patients access to quality and specialized healthcare

Doctors who have physical practices in rural areas are typically family doctors or general practitioners who might not have access or expertise in more specialized forms of medicine that rural patients need.

This is where telehealth can help. Telemedicine software allows healthcare organizations to provide rural patients specialized or more up-to-date care that they might not have convenient access to.

Tool tips

  • If you’re a specialist, such as a practice who specializes in mental health or behavioral health, in an urban setting who is looking for more patients, consider spending some advertising dollars in rural communities outside of the city you practice in. Build connections with the general practitioners who practice there to build word of mouth and get more referrals. Not only will you increase your revenue and help build your practice, but you’ll be servicing a largely underserved population of people who might otherwise not have access to the care you can provide.

  • That’s not to say that only specialists should target rural areas. If you plan on offering telemedicine and telehealth services, it’s a good idea to take stock of what healthcare services are being provided in rural areas near your practice in order to see if there’s a gap in service that you can help fill. After all, there will always be demand for physicians, and you might find it easier to build a patient base tapping into rural areas than urban ones.

Pro #2: Patient experience improves due to the convenience

We’re written a lot about how to improve patient experience and increase patient engagement because it’s an incredibly important aspect of any healthcare organization that wants to succeed and grow.

The predominant way that telehealth improves the patient experience is through convenience. Let’s face it: Going to the doctor can be inconvenient. Taking time off work to drive 20 to 30 minutes to the doctor’s office, only to have to sit in a waiting room for another 20 to 30 minutes, followed by a short visit and another drive home—that time adds up quickly. This is a deterrent for patients coming in to see their healthcare provider at all.

Telehealth eliminates nearly all of that time and boils it down to an easily accessed, scheduled appointment that can be taken via a smartphone anywhere. It’s so much more convenient for your patients, especially for non-physical examination appointments or check-ups.

You’ll see an uptick in scheduled appointments and will likely see fewer cancellations which will help your bottom line. It’s a win-win for you and your patients and will lead to an overall better experience.

If you’re finding that your healthcare organization is experiencing several cancellations or no shows, you should run a series of patient experience surveys which ask specific questions about what your patients like and don’t like about their visit to your practice. Things such as convenience, communication, scheduling, and wait times should be considered when drafting the questionnaire.

When you get the results, if scheduling, convenience, and wait times are consistent pain points for your patients, you should consider adopting a more robust telehealth program in order to help increase the patient experience and retain those patients with a higher frequency.

Pro #3: Telehealth can improve patient outcomes

Because of the convenience that telehealth offers patients, they’re much more likely to schedule appointments for routine checkups and preventative care. It might not seem worth the trouble to a patient to schedule an in-person appointment for something they perceive as small, but they might schedule a telehealth visit.

This not only means they’re living an overall healthier life with an eye on their health outcomes, but it also means you’re seeing more patients and making more money.

Additionally, telehealth offers a ton of benefits for your patients with chronic conditions who have to stick to a strict care plan. Routine checkups are much more convenient without the need for an office visit.

More advanced types of virtual care, such as remote patient monitoring, can further help your patients with chronic conditions by tracking important health data in real time in order to catch problems as soon as they develop. Remote patient monitoring devices such as blood pressure cuffs, smart blood glucose monitors, and heart rate monitors are all useful virtual care tools that can help amplify telehealth and telemedicine appointments to help improve your patients’ overall health outcomes.

If you’re curious about how more robust virtual care options, such as remote patient monitoring, can help your patients, we’ve written extensively about them:

Cons of telehealth

While it’s true that several benefits of telehealth and telemedicine exist, there are also disadvantages that come with offering this type of health service. We’ll help you weigh the pros against the cons to see if telehealth is right for your practice.

Con #1: It can be hard to build rapport with a patient in an entirely online relationship

First and foremost, offering a telehealth service can make it challenging to build rapport with your patients. While it’s true that it’s much more convenient, which can help improve the patient experience, it can also hurt the experience for patients who need a more personal touch.

This is particularly true of new patients who might be unfamiliar with you and your medical practice. Getting up to speed on patients’ healthcare history can be complicated because patient data often doesn’t transfer from practice to practice in a convenient way.

Additionally, your patients might be nervous about what type of medical care they’ll receive from you if they are completely unfamiliar with you and your practice. It can be hard to trust the advice of a doctor they have never met in person before.

If building rapport with your patients is something you deeply care about as a healthcare provider, you might consider offering a hybrid approach. You might suggest the first appointment a patient has with your practice be in person and more involved to start building that trust and rapport, then switch to remote appointments for follow-ups and check-ins. This will show your patient that you care about them as a person which will deepen the bond and make it less likely that they will seek healthcare elsewhere in the future.

Con #2: Software and hardware use can be technically challenging and cause unforeseen issues

Telemedicine and telehealth require certain things to work seamlessly. At minimum, you and your patient will need a stable internet connection, and in some cases you’ll need specialized equipment in the case of remote patient monitoring. Additionally, your patients might not be technologically literate enough to operate the applications and telehealth software that you use.

Additionally, you might find that some patients are hesitant to download any application that requires providing their personal data. While most of these problems are solved with some education and training, things such as access to an internet connection can strike telehealth appointments dead in the water.

When it comes to offsetting this disadvantage, all it takes is some extra attention to training and setting expectations early on. Telemedicine and telehealth software are becoming more and more user friendly, and your patients are likely going to be much more familiar with a virtual visit than they were before the pandemic.

As far as training is concerned, you’ll want to devote some time when your patients are onboarding with your practice to go over your telemedicine service with them. Focus on how to use the app, if there is one, important places for them to visit in the portal, how to access the link to the video call, etc. You can even spend some time early on writing out training posts that you can send via email before appointments as reminders to make the entire process as smooth as possible.

Con #3: Physical examinations are difficult to conduct effectively

Unfortunately, physical exams conducted via telehealth rely completely on how good of a camera your patient has access to. While most modern phones have cameras that a photographer in the 2000s could only dream of, you can’t rely on your patients to have the most up-to-date or expensive smartphone, and most laptops, even expensive ones, have webcams that just aren’t clear enough to give you an accurate picture.

Telemedicine is most effective when used for minor health conditions, check-ins for patients with chronic conditions, and small check-ups when a patient has concerns about an issue they’ve been experiencing.

The reality is that sometimes patients will need to visit in person for things such as blood work or lab tests. Additionally, things such as mammograms or lung cancer screenings simply cannot be done virtually.

That’s why we suggest a hybrid approach where the majority of your appointments are done virtually while saving the in-person meetings for when physical exams, lab tests, and specialized services are required.

Telemedicine software is essential for successful telehealth implementation

You might think that you can use a video conferencing tool for your telehealth appointments and call it a day, but if you seriously plan on adopting telemedicine, you need to invest in telemedicine software for a variety of reasons.

First and foremost, you will need to maintain your compliance with HIPAA, which not all video conferencing tools will satisfy. Additionally, telemedicine software comes with functionality specifically designed to help you maximize the effectiveness of each patient visit in order to ensure they get the most out of their time. They also come with encryption and security protocols that can help keep patient data secure and protected.

Things such as instant message chat, appointment setting, billing, virtual waiting rooms, clinical documentation, and e-prescribing are all common features of telemedicine software that traditional video conferencing tools won’t have.

The challenge comes when you’re already spending money on other software such as electronic medical record (EMR) software, billing software, patient portal software, or accounting software.

The first place we recommend starting is to evaluate whether or not you’re content with your current EHR software. If yes, find out if they offer telemedicine functionality as an add-on. Since the pandemic, many EHR suites have rushed to get telemedicine added to their list of functionalities in order to help make their software more desirable for healthcare clinics.

If your EHR doesn’t have telemedicine functionality, you’ll want to start looking for specific telemedicine software. You’ll also want to consider a couple of things if you plan on continuing down this route:

  • Make sure your chosen telehealth solution can integrate with your EMR.

    • While it’s true that it’s not an absolute necessity, having patient information in multiple places can make it difficult to maintain patient records, so it’s best to avoid this headache by finding a solution that integrates seamlessly.

  • Some standalone telemedicine software solutions might have features that overlap with what you’re already paying for.

    • When looking for new software solutions, pay close attention to what features are being offered and double check them against your current solutions to make sure you aren’t paying for features that you already have.

If you’re curious about how much the typical telemedicine software solution costs, check out our pricing guide.

And if you’re looking for telemedicine software but don’t know where to start, a 15-minute one-on-one chat with one of our advisors will leave you with up to five options that are a great fit for your practice. Schedule a call or click here to chat with a software advisor now for free.

For most practices, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to telehealth

While it’s true that there are some disadvantages to adopting telehealth and telemedicine, they are often easily solved with training, but in the worst cases, you will always be able to offer in-person appointments to solve the disadvantages.

The truth is that most of your appointments can be done virtually and the benefits of convenience far outweigh the cons. After all, remember that 92% of patients are going to choose a practice that offers at least some telemedicine solutions to one that doesn’t.

For more information about telehealth and how it can benefit your practice, check out these other resources:

Survey methodology

* Software Advice conducted the 2022 State of Telemedicine Survey in August, 2022 of 1002 respondents to learn more about telemedicine use and how it has been affected by the pandemic. Screening questions were used to narrow respondents to those with relevant experience with the subject matter.

** Software Advice conducted the 2022 Healthcare Business Survey in August, 2022 of 154 healthcare providers to learn about business trends and struggles that are affecting the operation of their practices right now. We used screeners to ensure we were speaking to providers who would have relevant knowledge and experience with the topics addressed, including limiting job titles to doctors, nurses, and office administrators.