Virtual Health Care

Virtual Health Care

I received an email the other day from our friends at Home Healthcare Solutions in Ireland that contained an Infographic they have created on Virtual Health Care and asked me to share with our visitors.

I can see the value and many of the benefits of Virtual Health Care and agree wholeheartedly that we can use technology to increase productivity in the healthcare field and save time and money for patients.

This infographic, which can be seen in full on their blog or can be downloaded here as a .pdf, discusses the monetary and time savings that can be achieved by doing medicine in a new way.

It also talks about new ideas such as “Hologram House Calls” where the doctor visits the patient by hologram and a virtual doctor app where you input your medical information and a treatment plan is given to you. Of course there is a section on how virtual medicine can benefit both the doctors and patients by removing the need to actually meet in person.

They’ve included sections about the challenges faced in trying to establish such a new type of medical treatment protocol, opinions of medical and industry professionals and finally, reference links to more information.

While I can see more drawbacks to the holographic visit and app approach to healthcare than mentioned, I can see that medicine will likely move further in the direction of less patient-doctor face time then more.

Here in Ontario we have telemedicine which is probably the first step on the route to virtual health care. My wife, Elaine, has to specialists in Toronto (250 km away) who often don’t need to do a physical exam. She goes to a telemedicine access location (there are 5 or 6 within 20 to 30 minutes of our home) sits down in front of a television screen and camera and has her doctor appointment. A nurse is always available in case the doctor wants some physical test or observation done and treatments are modified as needed.

The benefits? One, these telemedicine sessions are strictly scheduled so the doctor is always on time. Two, we don’t have to drive 5 or more hours for a ten minute appointment which save gas, time and money. Three, the government saves because we can’t claim travel expenses on our income tax for appointments less than 40 km for our home. Four, the doctor spends less time with the patient when they meet via Telemedicine freeing him up for other patients.

While Telemedicine is a long way from Holograph Visits and automated Phone Apps, it is that direction that medicine is heading. How far it will go we’ll have to wait and see. Whether some IT genius figures out a way to make virtual medicine are a real option, who knows?

In the future medicine will be done differently, that’s pretty much a given, and changes happen these days much faster than ever before in history so changes to how we interact with our medical professionals will be something that most of will experience in our lives.