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Virtual Visits To Doctors Spreading 215

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
tresho writes to tell us that virtual doctors visits seem to be on the rise. A new service, most recently deployed in Texas, from "NowClinic" is allowing doctors to make virtual house calls and prescribe anything short of controlled substances. "For $45, anyone in Texas can use NowClinic, whether or not they are insured, by visiting NowClinic.com. Doctors hold 10-minute appointments and can file prescriptions, except for controlled substances. Eventually they will be able to view patients’ medical histories if they are available. The introduction of NowClinic will be the first time that online care has been available nationwide, regardless of insurance coverage."
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Virtual Visits To Doctors Spreading

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  • Lawsuits galore? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MMC Monster (602931) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:18PM (#30516232)

    It sounds like a good idea.

    I hope the physicians are covered by some sort of indemnity so that they won't be sued for something that they cannot possibly figure out via a video phone and 10 minutes. Otherwise you'll see doctors figure out that it's just not worth the risk.

    As a physician, I'll be happy to participate in something like this so long as my exposure to lawsuits is limited.

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:26PM (#30516334) Homepage

    Seriously is this a good thing?

    In the UK we have a service "NHS Direct" which is effectively a triage service which tells you whether you need to go to a doctor. Its in no way shape or form a replacement for a direct doctors appointment its just there to filter out cases that aren't overly serious or are serious enough to need an emergency visit. This service is staffed by nurses and its pretty good and does help with people who are concerned about medical issues.

    The idea of someone prescribing drugs via this sort of service is just insane. It would be smarter to delegate prescriptions, or at least re-issuing prescriptions, to pharmacists who will at least see the patient. Or are we going to a world where you don't see the doctor and you get your drugs shipped direct so you never ever see anyone with any sort of medical training who can just briefly add a sanity check to the whole thing.

    Its hard to imagine a better example as to why the US system is completely and utterly fucked than this being considered a good thing.

  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:26PM (#30516344) Homepage
    I hope the physicians are covered by some sort of indemnity so that they won't be sued for something that they cannot possibly figure out via a video phone and 10 minutes. Otherwise you'll see doctors figure out that it's just not worth the risk. As a physician, I'll be happy to participate in something like this so long as my exposure to lawsuits is limited.

    As a lawyer, I'd hope that if a doctor risks harming a patient by practicing through video phone, then maybe they shouldn't practice through videophone.
  • by LockeOnLogic (723968) on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:37PM (#30516478)

    OptumHealth, a division of UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, plans to offer NowClinic

    When the devil hands me a gift I'm wary of opening it...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 21, 2009 @03:55PM (#30516668)
    America will shortly have a large influx of Docs from China doing virtual visits. This will be another form of outsourcing. the difference is that when docs screws up and kills someone, there will not be lawsuits. Instead, China will say that the doc did not have right to practice medicine even if they had been embraced by the Chinese gov. for the last 20 years.

    The good news on this, will be that now, more professionals will re-think through what is happening with regard to the outsourcing back to China. I am just waiting for politicians to be outsourced. They will be just as corrupt, but at least will cost America less.
  • by ravenscar (1662985) on Monday December 21, 2009 @04:00PM (#30516724)
    Most commenters have only mentioned that a web diagnosis is likely to be inferior to an in-person diagnosis. I generally agree with that statement.
    What I feel people are failing to catch is that a web diagnosis, conducted by a qualified individual is better than no diagnosis at all.
    How many people skip or put off doctor visits because they don't have the desire or time to block 2+ hours of their day for a 5 minute visit with a doctor? How many others can't afford $150+ for a visit? Now that you're thinking about those numbers consider how many people miss out the on the potential benefits of an early diagnosis.
    If this service can expand access to medical care and encourage more people to seek care when they need it I think it could have significant benefits. I think it also has the potential to limit unnecessary doctor/ER visits.
    As long as the doctors stay within the bounds of what they can really do on the web I think there is upside potential in this model.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday December 21, 2009 @04:12PM (#30516872) Journal

    Chances are, you're getting the same quality treatment no matter which you see. Most of what a doctor sees is really pretty routine and can be handled by a nurse or PA just fine.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday December 21, 2009 @04:43PM (#30517252) Homepage Journal

    That's the danger of a joke comment. If the mods don't get it, or if you fail at being funny, you lose karma, but if you succeed you still don't gain any.

    If you see "the comedian" in somebody's achievements page, it's a sure sign they're not a karma whore.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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