Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remote Telemedicine is Coming Soon to You

Imagine this, Dear Patient.  You wake up and feel like you were hit by a truck.  Your head aches and when you look in the mirror you are shocked to see a rash running along your left ribcage.  It is slightly prickly and tender and you are freaking out.  To make things worse, you are in day two of a long awaited vacation and hundreds of miles  away from your favorite doctor.

What do you do?  Try to find an emergency room? Go back to bed and hope it is a bad dream?

It won't be long before you can log into your computer (with a polycam), dial up your favorite doctor and have a telemedicine visit.  The physician can get your history and you can even show her the rash.  Of course you have an electronic thermometer with you and you show the doctor that it is just a little elevated.  Your doctor diagnoses Herpes Zoster (shingles) and prescribes medication to be started immediately.  She electronically submits the prescription to the closest pharmacy to your vacation destination.  You click the PayPal button and pay the charge for the visit.

Telemedicine is the next "big thing" that will revolutionize how we practice.  We already use remote monitoring to provide expert care in the ICU of hospitals.  Rural hospitals use telemedicine for specialty consults and some innovation is happening with home monitoring for patients with chronic diseases like heart failure.  Some States are using telemedicine for prison care and to avoid the expense of transporting prisoners to doctors for evaluation.  Using telemedicine to save the time and expense of an office visit for problems that do not require an extensive physical exam just makes sense.

Will online care replace the doctors visit?  Never.  There are some conditions and problems that require face-to-face interaction and physical exam.  But telemedicine can provide quick and easy access for some conditions and the ability to monitor patients at home can keep millions out of the hospital.

I for one, embrace the change.

16 comments:

The 50 Best Health Blogs said...

This gives new meaning to the statement, "The doctor will see you now."

Lockup Doc said...

I also embrace the change. (As long as doctors, not administrators, decide when the use of telemedicine is appropriate.)

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