Doctor visits are starting to change now thanks to video technology allowing doctors to work with a patient remotely without the patient making a roundabout trek to the clinic. Called telemedicine, it’s a procedure that’s been around for a while, though only in very minor medical circles. The earliest adopters no doubt considered it permanently experimental based on the likely frustration of video freezes five or more years ago. Since then, though, anyone who thought it wouldn’t happen has now eaten their words as more doctors are taking the process on.
Many video options available for telemedicine are making it easier all the time for people to get checked for simple health problems while staying at home. However, many health groups now want to expand all of this to a point where we stop calling it telemedicine. Now being deemed “virtual house calls”, video conferencing on health problems might go beyond just simple health issues that doctors can treat remotely. Those with more complex diseases are even starting to use the virtual house call method based on the burden of having to drive to clinics and wait interminably in crowded waiting rooms.
The other issues developing behind virtual house calls is whether health insurance would pay for this new procedure. It’s said that Medicare covers some telemedicine, thought it’s far from where it should be. In most cases, more complex examinations through video aren’t covered by insurance yet, perhaps out of fear that it wouldn’t be accurate enough.
Will We Eventually Have All Our Checkups By Video?
Anyone who has physicals once a year or has to do regular doctoring for a chronic condition knows the horror of having to stand in long lines and sit in chaotic waiting rooms. Some people just avoid going to the doctor for the basic reason that you have to stand in a line for half an hour just to pay your co-pay. After, you’ll likely have to sit next to a few screaming children in a waiting room while your doctor runs more than an hour behind.
It’s the stuff of nightmares for those who are already sick and don’t want to experience anything disruptive around them. In other cases, it’s the same for those who just go once a year for a physical and feel as if they have to climb a mountain just to have a physical done with their doctor.
Will there be a day where those who physically can’t make it to a clinic, or just don’t want to, can be examined by a doctor through a virtual house call? A few insurers are starting to offer the service, with American Well being one of the most notable and most diffuse around the United States. With success stories from those providers, it seems that major insurers would be perking up their ears based on the cost savings. As mentioned above, though, there may be a fear that if virtual house calls become mainstream for all conditions, a doctor might be more apt to overlook something. Thanks to high-definition video, it seems like such a thing couldn’t happen. Then again, the same thing can happen while in person at a clinic with perhaps the same odds.
Also, evidence of how successful outcomes are with virtual house calls is still ongoing. This probably means at least a decade will have to go by of examining evidence before the big insurance names take it on to make your life more convenient.
It seems as with everything in health, it takes decades of study before health care can finally correct itself for a generation that needs more convenient health care than ever.