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Telehealth could improve health care delivery

One of the biggest beefs people have with health care is that they waste the better part of a day driving to the doctor’s office and waiting to see the doctor only to have him spend little more than five minutes discussing their case with them. One wonders when the stodgy old medical profession is going to update its technology. Sure, there is the latest technology in the way of wonderfully expensive medical equipment in the hospitals but there is little use of widely available and inexpensive technology in streamlining seeing the doctor.

Telehealth is what they call it and it is basically just using the methods that every modern business uses these days to engage customers and conduct business. That means the internet. Instead of driving to the travel agent and buying a paper ticket you go online, compare flight opens, and purchase an e-ticket. It is so much more efficient and it can be performed whenever you want and wherever you have an internet connection. Hundreds of other types of businesses employ equally simple and effective technology. Add on live chat or a live person you can call and the efficiency of a business improves dramatically.

So why can’t the medical profession take some hints from this? Why must a patient schedule a followup appointment with the doctor to discuss their test results in person? Live chat would be a great way to do it. The doctor could use his/her time very effectively by allocating a block of time to do followup appointments online and patients could queue up online instead of the doctor’s waiting room. Include some graphics in the live chat if needed to help with the discussion. There is always the telephone as a backup if there are technical difficulties.

When I have my annual health exam at private hospitals in Thailand I have a meeting with the doctor the same day to discuss the results. The doctors often have me view their computer screen where they pull up the chest x-ray, the ultrasound image, and other graphics to support the discussion. That is all so easily made into a chat session. Of course, that isn’t needed in Thailand where you have the followup appointment within a couple of hours of the exam so you never have to leave the hospital and make a followup appointment. But in the silly inefficient world of western medicine the followup could be improved with application of just a little bit of technology that is available to everyone.

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