In today’s smartphone age, phones are bridging a new gap: the one between doctors and some patients. Telemedicine is advancing, and the latest innovation is the virtual house call, in which a doctor can communicate and check up on their patient even while conducting the examination hundreds of miles away.
Although telemedicine through a virtual office setup isn’t going to appeal to everyone, Dr. Ray Dorsey, a neurologist working with the University of Rochester Medical Center, points out that there are many situations where it can successfully work. “Think of taking your mom with Alzheimer’s to a big urban medical center. Just getting through the parking lot they’re disoriented,” he explains in an interview with the Associated Press. A virtual office solution can allow patients who suffer from disabling maladies to communicate with their doctors without having to leave the security of their home environment.
One company has already added the offerings to their lineup, creating a smartphone app that allows consumers to connect to a doctor for $49. Ultimately, for minor issues that don’t need immediate or in-person attention, medical virtual office suites can help people save time and money, and help doctors see more patients. It’s likely that many laws and insurance policies will have to play catch-up with the service, though. Many insurance companies have been reluctant to cover over-the-internet care, and laws that vary by state can sometimes make providing care difficult.
Mark Matulaitis, a Parkinson’s patient, has been seeing his doctor regularly through video house calls for several years now, and finds the program to be highly successful. When he was first diagnosed, the only specialist was over two hours away, and his wife would have to take a day off work to bring him in. “It allows the doctor to see the patient at a point where they are at their best,” says Matulaitis.
Are virtual office solutions part of the future of medical care? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. More on this.