What is Telemedicine? The 21st Century House Call

Going to visit a specialist can be a pain! First, you must wait for a referral from your regular doctor. Then, you have to spend time on the phone trying to schedule an appointment for what may be a completely inconvenient appointment time:

Receptionist: “How’s 10:30 AM on a Tuesday in 6 weeks?” 

You: “Umm, terrible!”

You are forced to rearrange your schedule because the inconvenient appointment time is all that is available.  And now that you have rearranged your schedule, taken time away from work, and are on your way…Google Maps sends you to the wrong office building and parking is a nightmare. Oh, and the doctor is running an hour behind. When you finally do see the specialist, you get nothing more than a 5 minute visit with a hurried, distracted physician and still don’t have all the answers you need. 

There has to be a better way.  Luckily, we live in an age where most any needed service can be delivered to us at home. Cooking lessons, paper towels, movies and dinner from our favorite restaurant. Even for medical advice, we all turn to Dr. Google (myself included).  What if I told you that you could see a board certified specialist from the comfort of your home? Sound crazy? It’s not. Welcome to the 21st Century house call known as TELEMEDICINE

What exactly is telemedicine? The Oxford dictionary defines telemedicine as:

“The remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.”

In layman’s terms it means you can have a secure, on-line video visit with a board certified physician using your phone or computer. Have you seen the TV ad where the gentleman is attacked by a bird at a beach wedding and has video visit with a doctor? That is telemedicine (and for the record, that’s the most ridiculous patient scenario I’ve ever heard of!). 

Is Telemedicine Just a Fad?

No. Although telemedicine currently comprises <1% of all medical interactions, insurance companies, large universities, pharmacies and even Walmart are all-in on telemedicine. Telemedicine is here to stay. 

We are also facing an impending doctor shortage in this country. Take urology for example. 60% of U.S. counties don’t have a urologist. With an aging population and no increase in the number of urologists being trained, how are we going to help patients? Supply is low, demand is high. We must get creative. We must embrace telemedicine.

Stay tuned for my follow-up post on why telemedicine may actually be BETTER than a traditional office visit. 

Do you have questions about telemedicine? Would you like to see if telemedicine is right for you? Send me an email (joe@drpazona.com) and we can schedule a free 5 minute video consultation.

Stay healthy!

Dr. P

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