Virtual doctor’s visits save money, time, tax dollars


Story by Vik Reddy

The health care industry would do well to embrace video conferencing, or telemedicine, between doctors and patients.

Every day, I stare at the fax machine in my office as it spits out labs, consult notes and communications from hospitals and other physicians. My office staff duly faxes over forms to insurance companies to authorize treatments for my patients. I wonder if the medical industry is the sole reason why faxes still exist. Despite the growing push to go paperless in every other industry, medicine still clings to this archaic form of technology.

My children have a standing date to Facetime with their grandmother in California. On these “virtual” visits, gifts are displayed, dresses are paraded, and grandma is able to see how much the kids have grown. A technology that was limited to spy movies when I was growing up is now ubiquitous to the point that the generation above and below me take it for granted.

So, why isn’t video conferencing, better known as telemedicine, a routine part of our health care system. Telemedicine has been utilized for years by the Veterans Administration and has been highlighted in the mainstream media. Recent studies have shown that telemedicine can reduce hospital readmissions and reduce health expenditures. Several states, including Michigan, have passed laws that require insurance carriers to recognize claims for telemedicine services.

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