In the past, house calls by doctors were pretty routine. Today, the practice has all but been abandoned.
Thanks to advances in technology, this is changing. A new version of the house call is taking shape. Forbes.com wrote that telemedicine could be the new face of health care delivery.
According to the American Academy to Family Physicians, telemedicine can be defined as the use of telecommunications by physicians to diagnose, consult, treat and transfer medical data.
It’s basically health care at a distance. A doctor and patient can conduct an appointment online. It’s particularly useful for rural areas.
The American Association of Medical Colleges predicts a nationwide shortage of more than 90,000 doctors by 2020, leaving a hole in health care, reported TheAtlantic.com. Telemedicine could play an important role filling that hole and treating patients.
The house call could have a resurgence by the simple fact that people most likely will have their online medical appointments at home. And with telemedicine, your family physician could use technology to deliver that care with their personal touch.
Another benefit of telemedicine is that patients can ask simple questions without the need to take time off for an office visit.
According to TheAtlantic.com, as of 2013, only 12 percent of Americans had ever emailed or texted with a physician. But nearly a third of those under age 30 liked the idea of their primary communication with their doctors being conducted online.
Teague, a Seattle design firm, has taken the idea of telemedicine one step farther.
Teague envisions A Doctor In A Box kit. It would come with a smart stethoscope, capable of hearing the heart or lungs, and taking high-definition images on the skin’s surface, as well as a teleconferencing camera that can beam video to the doctor and track the body’s movement, heart rate and temperature.
People could buy the kit, perform basic tests, and then teleconference with a doctor.
Another company called HealthTap is currently offering a service called Prime where for $99 a month, subscribers can text, call and send videos to a doctor at any time, day or night.
One area that telemedicine may have the biggest impact on is travel. People wouldn’t need to worry about health care coverage or finding a doctor while away from home.
However, a significant limitation of telemedicine could be that doctors don’t see patients on an ongoing basis. As a result, patients could be getting advice from doctors with whom they don’t have a personal relationship, and who don’t know their health and medical history.
Limitations aside, as telemedicine evolves and becomes more developed and refined, it will likely become increasingly standard for everyone. And doctors could once again conduct house calls.
Hamblin, James. "The Doctor That Never Sleeps." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 June 2015.
Jerant, MD, Anthony F., Loretta Schlachta, RN, Ted D. Epperly, MD, and Jean Barnes-Camp, RN. "Back to the Future: The Telemedicine House Call." - Family Practice Management. Web. 10 June 2015.
Prince, Russ Alan. "Concierge Telemedicine, Today's Version Of The House Call." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 10 June 2015.
"This Doctor In A Box Is A House Call For The Modern Age." Co.Design. 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 10 June 2015.
Reviewed June 11, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith