and Electronic Access to Doctors
defined, telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site
to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health
status. Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones wireless
tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.
The last sentence in the first paragraph in a HealthLeadersmedia.com
story got me started,
“Once a way for people in rural areas
to access medical specialists, telemedicine is now being piloted by Rite Aid at
its in-store clinics. Competitors Walgreens and CVS may not be far behind.
Where does that leave traditional healthcare providers?”
Where indeed does this leave the
doctors? It’s a good question. My answer is: it leaves them pursuing new
ways to communicate with patients , a subject Kevin Pho, MD, has laid out in
detail in his new book Establishing,
Managing and Protecting Your Online Reputation; A Social Media Gyud for
Physicians and Medical Practices (Greenbranch Publishing, 2013.
“The Times They Are A’Changing” as the
Bob Dylan song lyrics go. Led by Rite
Aid, the pharmaceutical industry may soon be offering telemedicine services at many of its drugstores.
According to the HealthLeaders’ piece.
Aid has been dabbling in telemedicine since 2011, when it began testing
NowClinic at nine stores in Detroit. The service allows health clinic patients
to have a private, one-on-one consultation via video conference with a
physician from OptumHealth—rather than a nurse practitioner who handles
in-store visits. The 10-minute consultations cost $45, and physicians either
diagnose a condition and prescribe.”
is powerful stuff. OptumHealth, is a $30
billion branch of United Health. Optum is the nation’s largest collector of
medical claims data on 100 million people.
“While Rite Aid is the
first retailer to launch a telemedicine pilot at its in-store clinics, others
are likely to follow in the highly competitive retail pharmacy business.
Walgreens has a network of 700 Take Care clinics in its stores, and CVS has
Minute Clinics in more than 650 locations.
"I don't think
you'll see either Walgreens or CVS sit on the sidelines for very long,"
said Benjamin Forstag, senior director of communications for the American
Telemedicine Association (ATA).”
So what are doctors to
do? A first step might be to set up a
practice website. A second might be to market their services on Facebook,
Twitter, and You Tube. A third might be
to charge for answering emails. A fourth might be to investigate who to use
Skype to schedule audiovisual visits. A fifht might be to align themselves with local and ntional pharmacies.
sixth might be to follow the lead of a group of doctors who formed
GetMedCallAssist.com. This company
claims that 70% of doctor visits and 40% of ER visits could be handled just as
well with much more efficiency at less cost telephonically at the cost of lss
than $50 a mont for a family of five.
Other companies are
entering the telemedicine arena
Consult A Doctor
Tweet: The age of telemedicine
may be about to arrive at your corner drug store,
your home computer, your smart
phone, and your mobile device.
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