From time to time I feel like we are living in the future that we imagined as kids. Self-driving cars, tablets that talk, screens that bend, it can be overwhelming (in a good way) sometimes. It won’t be long before we are no longer greeted by Doctors, but by a robot on wheels, with a screen on the top of it streaming video chat with our medical professionals. It may sound silly, but what they call “telemedicine technology” is actually becoming quite popular, and it won’t be long before we start seeing it routinely.
First reactions are “I want to talk to a real person, not a machine.” I can understand the statement, but the truth is, they are talking to a human being, our technology just allows that person to be in another place physically while talking to you and seeing you. Now obviously certain examinations will still have to be done in person, but this will allow doctors to do quick check in on patients, and get status updates from wherever they are, whether they are in surgery, with another patient, or stuck in the sand trap. The good side of it is that most people hate having to wait in the room for 2 hours for their doctor to show up. This technology allows doctors to get there much quicker and make a diagnosis, or ask questions.
Medical costs are skyrocketing, especially for those with chronic conditions. Visiting with doctors can cost a fortune, as even I experienced a few months ago. I got so sick I could hardly speak, and had to go to the ER, and when there, I spoke with a doctor for probably a total of three minutes. For “doctors visit” I was charged almost 300 dollars. That wasn’t including any of the medicine or treatment. For those without insurance, I can only imagine the cost. Luckily this technology is one solution to these inflated costs. Being able to easily visit rooms remotely means less time working, fewer charges for the hospitals, and an easier way for patients with chronic conditions to communicate with their physicians. Skype video conferences are already becoming a widely used method for doctors to communicate with their chronic care patients from home.
Technology is also helping fight the demands for specialists in rural areas. In many areas of the country (and across the globe) specialists are needed to help patients with very specific illnesses, but few operate in these rural areas if any at all. Video conferencing is allowing for specialists from other cities across the country to visually evaluate the patient and communicate with them, even if they are unable to get to them physically. In the past, the patient would either have to travel to the specialist if stable, or wait for one to travel to them, either way costing a lot of money and risking their health.
No one can be sure of what will happen in the medical industry in the next several years, but we can hope technology is a part of it. If we are able to help more people at less cost for all of us, then I’m for it.