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Is a virtual doctor appointment or in-person appointment better?

By HERWriter Blogger August 19, 2014 - 3:36pm
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I've been hearing about telemedicine and virtual visits with doctors through Skype and other technology a lot lately. It's pretty amazing that doctors can diagnose and see patients from their own home through a computer screen today. Can virtual visits replace in-person doctor visits? What's the better choice- a virtual doctor appointment or in-person visit?

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Erin

Great question - I've been hearing about this too! 

I think there are pros and cons here. The pro is that is saves us and the insurance companies a lot of money and saves us time. We can still have eye-to-eye contact and sense body language - two key factors in communication. And if we know our doctor well, there is mutual trust that the patient can explain what is going on to a high degree and that our doctor knows us (and our health) well enough to understand. She  can then refer testing and the like, so we can go straight to a lab or clinic and bypass the initial meet up. These screen time visits are great for follow-ups for generally healthy people. 

The con is that unless we know our bodies well and unless we know our doctor well, screen time may not work. Sometimes a physical exam is absolutely needed to gauge what is going on. 

All in all, I'm all for screen time for follow-up visits or to talk to our doctors about ongoing problems or less complicated issues. For example, we have the same infection again, if we know the signs and symptoms, then there is no need for a face-to-face visit. Screen time is fine to confirm a diagnosis and medication if necessary. Ongoing problems or occasional and less serious infections etc don't need a doctor's visit for many. 

New issues or conditions that need a physical evaluation still need an office visit. 

By the way, screen visits are great for people who cannot take time off work, who live far away, who may be infirm or don't have childcare. 



August 20, 2014 - 4:09am
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