From what we’ve heard and seen, most people are in two camps when thinking about their status as a receiver of medical care. Some like the process of going to their doctor, speaking face to face and getting the care that they need. Others tend to see the whole process as a hassle, with the time traveling to and from, time away from work and time spent in the waiting room being viewed as a waste.
If you’re in the former camp, then you can expect your trips to your doctor’s office to continue for the foreseeable future. If you’re in the latter camp, then it might soon be time to try medicine by app or Skype.
The Skype option might be available now with your current doctor, but probably not yet. A New York Times article last year titled “Modern Doctors’ House Calls: Skype Chat and Fast Diagnosis” heralded the promising, though rocky evolution of virtual health services. From the article:
“Dr. Dan Diamond, a family practitioner at one of CHI Franciscan’s urgent care centers who recently trained to conduct virtual visits, said he enjoyed the less hurried pace. “I don’t have people knocking on the door and saying, ‘Doc, we need you in another room.’ I’m able to focus on that one patient, without all the commotion that happens in an urgent care or an emergency room.”
Still, he added, “there are some times where we just can’t do it virtually and we need to lay hands on a patient.””
In the examples cited in the NY Times article, doctors are typically in a dedicated virtual practice, not offering virtual as an option in a traditional practice. In our view, virtual may be a key future option for today’s doctor in a traditional practice considering the benefits and the pressures in the marketplace. As an MD, here’s why you should consider virtual options for your practice as they evolve:
Your patients want it – Consider the second group above. They don’t want to waste time with an office visit for routine issues. A scheduled appointment via app is a great alternative.
Better care through more frequent consultations – Perhaps the treatment you’ve just prescribed might require a follow up, but your patient doesn’t want to schedule because she thinks she might not need it. Why not schedule a virtual follow up? You can make the connection when the time is right and your patient doesn’t need to schedule time out of her office.
Better time management – Your time, we mean. We all know that patients can be late for appointments. When connecting via smartphone or tablet rather than making the trip to your office, the chances of your patient not being on time are reduced.
Enhance your standing – You may be getting older, but on average your patients are getting younger. The young tend to appreciate early adopters of tech. Being on the front line of offering virtual visits can improve your reputation in the community and increase referrals.