The Rise of the Virtual Doctor
With all the advancements in technology, almost everything can be done online these days. Videoconferencing is something widely available now, most homes have an Internet connection and at least one device to access that connection – making it a perfect option for seeing a doctor from the comfort of your own home. How does this rise in virtual health care impact doctors and patients, and what does it mean for traditional doctor visits?
Office Visits Are Here to Stay
For now at least, the future of the traditional doctor is safe. Even with our rapidly advancing medical technology, there’s some things that just can’t be done over the computer. Office visits will continue to be a necessary part of life for the foreseeable future.
How It Works
Like with any new service, we have a natural curiosity about how it works. I’m sure some of us have concerns about the security of an online doctor’s office. The good news is your information is secure – videoconferencing has to be HIPAA compliant. There’s several different security measures that have to be implemented to be compliant, all of which are in place to make sure your privileged information is kept safe.
The basic procedure for many virtual offices works as follows: You contact an online office and request a consult with a doctor, a board-certified doctor that is licensed in your state will contact you and listen to you describe your symptoms and concerns while asking questions to find a diagnosis. If a prescription is necessary, it’s sent to the pharmacy of your choice to be picked up at your convenience. At the end of your consultation you pay with a credit or debit card that was put on file at the beginning of your visit.
With the increase in virtual visits, many are beginning to wonder what all the buzz is about. Can a virtual visit really be as effective as a traditional visit, and what are the benefits of this type of health care?
- Virtual visits are convenient to both the patient and the doctor. Before, many of us had to take off work for an appointment. Online appointments offer more flexibility, can be completed with less wait time and are available from anywhere with an Internet connection and some privacy.
- Virtual visits offer health care to patients living in remote areas who otherwise might have to travel a good distance to find a doctor.
- One company has designed health care kiosks equipped with devices that allow a doctor to read patients’ heartbeats, check their blood pressure and check their ears with an otoscope attached to the enclosed kiosk. Not only does this allow the doctor access to patients’ vitals, it also provides an opportunity for more patient interaction, since screensharing allows the patient to see what the doctor sees.
- Getting health care from home means that there’s no waiting room. You’re not forced to sit in a space filled with sick people while you wait to see your doctor – you can wait for your consultation in the comfort of your own home.
- Information from your visits is saved automatically and conveniently. Your doctor can save images from an otoscope exam and record your heartbeat and blood pressure. This way, the next time you have an appointment, your health record is available and can provide the doctor with more information about you.
- Patients feel that doctors pay more attention to them during virtual visits. Being in a comfortable environment makes it easier to communicate and developing some level of trust with the doctor seems to come easier for many patients.
While this technology still has a long way to go, virtual visits are already making a huge difference in health care for many patients. It can’t replace all the equipment that may be available to you at a doctor’s office, but most routine visits don’t require any special equipment and only last about seven minutes on average. With the many benefits that this service provides, virtual doctors will continue to be on the rise and the technology will only get better and become more widely available.
*Our content is not intended to provide medical advice or diagnosis of individual problems or circumstances, nor should it be implied that we are a substitute for professional medical advice. Users / readers are always advised to consult their Healthcare Professional prior to starting any new remedy, therapy or treatment. Your Wellness Group accepts no liability in the event you, a user of n-gage and a reader of this article, suffers a loss as a result of reliance upon or inappropriate application of the information.