Thursday, April 03, 2008

"The doctor will see you now. Be sure your webcam is turned on."

Interesting article on NPR:

Doctor-Patient 'Web Visits' Spur Privacy Concerns - As more doctors go online to communicate with patients, two of the country's biggest health insurers have started reimbursing patients for the Internet visits. But critics say the online advising could lead to errors, and patient privacy could be compromised.

I think this is an excellent idea and, with the rise of Minute Clinics which are springing up at grocery stores and pharmacies, doctors need to consider the growing need for speed in getting treatment. Most doctors seem to be taking Scheduling 101 from beauticians, for example, who routinely overbook leading to long waits. Their clients--I'm loath to use the word "patients" because it fails to capture the market relationship between the provider and his/her customer--are expressing their frustration by seeking other forms of doctor-client contact.

Before one recent doctor visit, I found myself waiting mid-morning for over an hour. I was scheduled for a follow-up visit which turned out to be no more than "How are you feeling? I think we should continue the treatment as is. Come back in two months." No internet connection (which even my auto dealer has figured out to offer), no tea and the water cooler was empty. With travel and wait time, that took an hour and forth minutes out of my day.

This could also be a boon to communities where there aren't enough doctors to go around--that is, once, they suss out how they'll manage internet connections in these, sometimes, technologically depressed areas of the country.

Before, there was nowhere else for "patients" to go if they were displeased with customer service issues. All the doctors were doing the same thing. A different level of competition has now arisen in medicine--both the retail sectors and the internet will certainly change what has been a "given" in medicine--you'll get your treatment when and in the manner in which I want to dish it out.