Virtual Doctors Visits
Author: Lenneice Drew
If you think doctors would rather skip the personal connections with their patients, you could be wrong. Telemedicine has failed to take hold in the same way that other, newer, technologies have. This is where video conferencing and data transfer through phones and the Internet connect doctors to patients. The idea seems to be lagging not because of technical challenges, expense or insufficient need. It appears doctors are holding up the process. According the the New York Times, a recent study by researchers at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston looked at the impact of telemedicine on patients in the intensive care unit. Although the researchers had initially set out to study telemedicines effect on mortality, complications and the length of stay of patients in five different hospitals they inadvertently discovered the extent to which clinicians were reluctant to incorporate this technological change. Many doctors agreed, telemedicine seems to depersonalize the relationship and destroy trust. Others, including Rashid Bashshur, director of telemedicine at the University of Health System, say online medicine is a less expensive way of providing routine care. The argument that you need the laying on of hands to practice medicine is an old and tired argument that simply has no credibility, he said. There are two constants in medicine: change and resistance to change. One group in Texas offers its clinic virtual visits to anyone in the state for about $50. The system has much to recommend it. Patients can log in, choose a physician from those available, and have an immediate real-time conversation, including (and this seems crucial to me) video conferencing. However, Texas law requires that before doctors consult with patients or prescribe medicine online or over the phone, they form a relationship through means like a physical examination. Perhaps there is some middle ground for healthcare and technology to meet. My view is that we want to provide the highest quality care possible for our patients, Dr. Eric Thomas of a lead author of the study and director of the University of Texas-Memorial Hermann Center for Health Care Quality and Safety said. In some situations that might be with a remotely located physician; in others, not. I think that as long as we keep our eye on the ball that ball being the patient we will be okay in the end. We can divide our work up in new ways and still do what is best.About the Author:
Lenneice A. Drew is an experienced journalist currently focused on healthcare reform
She is working to help others achieve better lives by finding affordable health insurance
alternatives and reporting stories related to the healthcare industry. She lives in Miami, Florida.
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