Skype Chat – The 21st Century Doctor’s House Call
Skype Chat, who would’ve thought that it could help to streamline so many things. In today’s busy world it has become (especially here in the UK) increasingly difficult to get an appointment with your own doctor when you need to. You know, when you actually feel ill, only to find that you can’t get to see him/her for over a week!
So wouldn’t it be great that next time you need to see the doctor, instead of having to fix an appointment, why not just fire up your computer or smartphone? In the U.S. companies such as Doctor on Demand and the University of Pittsburgh’s AnywhereCare offer a 21st century approach with one-on-one conferencing with a doctor, either over the phone or through video on your phone or computer, giving you the medical advice you’re needing without having to get to the doctor’s surgery.
Telemedicine as it is called, has created the opportunity to revolutionize personal healthcare. Pat Basu, chief medical officer of Doctor on Demand states “Two of the most important skills we use as physicians are looking and listening. Video conferencing lets me use those skills and diagnose things like colds, coughs and even sprains in a manner more convenient for you.”
So what do you need to do to use these services? Just fire up the app, register and list your symptoms and any medication you are on or allergic to, then you are immediately connected with a doctor. “I ask questions and have you describe your condition to me,” Basu goes on to says. “I can even have you take a photo and upload it for me to see. So if you tell me you have a bunch of white spots on your tongue or a rash, you can send me a photo of that.”
An appointment lasts between 10 to 15 minutes with a flat cost of about $40 per appointment for both apps. You’re then sent on your way with detailed instructions on how to proceed and, in some cases, a prescription, Basu says. “One of the things our system won’t let them do is prescribe any controlled substances, like painkillers,” he says. “But in some cases, we will prescribe antibiotics if we feel it’s necessary.”
Basu goes on to say that there are definitely cases where this method of consultation isn’t the right choice. “This is really meant to be for acute care, not for chronic care like diabetes or hypertension,” he says. “For cases like that or when the patient needs to undergo tests, I refer them for an in-person visit.”
One downside is that using telemedicine frequently may also make it hard for doctors to track of your medical history, since you will often see a different doctor each time, and acute care on someone the doctor has never met before is hard, because he/she doesn’t know if this acute case is part of a bigger chronic problem.
Doctor on Demand is working around the problem by offering access to doctors a patient has seen before. “Once you’ve see one of our doctors, they reside in your favorites list, so you can request to connect with them again,” Basu says. “We’re trying to encourage continuity of care.”
Telemedicine isn’t going to replace the doctor’s office completely, so you can’t look at it as a competitor to traditional Doctors surgery visits. Lawrence Wechsler, vice president of telemedicine in the University of Pittsburgh says “Anytime you have new models there are going to be advantages and disadvantages,” he says. “Patients and doctors need to weigh the pros and cons to figure out what’s right for them.”
Source: US news