The ability to communicate with our loved ones through real-time video via computer or even cell phone was once a futuristic concept. However, today many of us use Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts on a regular basis. From calling our family or friends, to catching a lecture, to watching a video podcast…telecommunication has become a norm.
Now, ask yourself: What are some other common tasks you wish telecommunication could be used for? How about doctors’ appointments?
Well, what if we told you that you really could visit your doctor from anywhere; at home, in another state or country, or even from work? The good news is that this has, in fact, become a reality.
What is telemedicine?
The medical industry has adopted the concept of telecommunication as a means for medical professionals to see, consult, and diagnose patients. This form of medical services is referred to as “telemedicine,” or telehealth.
Telemedicine is defined by Wikipedia as:
…the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities.
In other words, patients can now Skype their doctors for common illnesses and be given a diagnosis. These patients not only save time and money, but they also have an added convenience with their ability to access their doctors from anywhere.
So how does it all work?
According to US News:
The average appointment lasts 10 to 15 minutes and has 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.
Julius Wyllie of TapCare, a local Portland based telemedicine practicing doctor, treats 40 different ailments; acne, allergies, bronchitis, sinus infections, and more. If your condition requires you to visit the doctor in person, you are not charged.
Other pharmacies are beginning to look into the idea of a virtual doctor. For example. Walgreens is in the process of testing out their version of a new mobile app that will allow patients to see a doctor without leaving home.
However, the idea of a virtual doctor is not a new concept. In the early 2000s, companies such as Teledoc and American Well were offering 24/7 access to doctors through telephone and video chats. The difference? Teledoc and American Well offer services through employers and/or healthcare organizations whereas startups like TapCare are providing services straight to the consumer.
What other industries do you think will be able to utilize Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangouts to replace in-person transactions and/or services?