Friday, March 25, 2011

Online Medical Consultations: The Future of Medicine?

Seeing the doctor no longer requires walking into a clinic or hospital.  Like banking and filing your taxes, receiving a consultation can now be done from the comfort of your own home and the number of companies that offer online medical consultations is increasing rapidly. As people tend to spend more time in front of a computer or with a smartphone in hand, the future of medicine has turned to speaking with your doctor through email and video.

One company that popped up two years ago is Elite Health, who offers online medical consultations through video and email though their social networking patient portal.  People are finding online consultations to be much more time and cost efficient than getting in the car and driving to the office.  Instead of scheduling an appointment to see your doctor to discuss your latest lab results, you can request a consultation and the doctor will respond via email.  Elite Health offers their eConsultation services by video as well.    

Other companies followed suit and offer their own brand of patient portal-based online medical consultations, which an range from general inquiries to the very specific.  Activ Doctors  is a company that specializes in providing second medical opinions.  Their service is geared toward patients who have already received a diagnosis and treatment from their physician but have yet to see improvement or perhaps just want a second opinion about the necessity of a procedure.  The patient fills out a request, explaining the situation that led them to asking for a second opinion.  A team of doctors will reviews the case and comes to a conclusion within 48 hours.  Active Doctors has a range of specialties including gastroenterology, ob/gyn and podiatry.  

The future of medicine also includes being able to share your vital statics with your doctor electronically.  One such product that enables patients that ability is the Microsoft HealthVault.  The HealthVault works with health monitoring devices, such as blood pressure cuffs, blood glucose monitors and scales that are specifically designed to be used with a PC.  The site works as a PHR as well as a method of keeping your doctor updated without having to make an appointment. 

Why are online medical consultations growing so much in popularity?  The internet is certainly not a new concept.  "With the Obama administration's implementation of stimulus funds for physicians to adopt PHR integrated Electronic Medical Record system, per the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we've begun seeing a rapid increase in new solutions coming onto the market.", says John Deutsch, CEO of Medical Web Experts, a software development firm specializing in Personal Health Record applications.  The future of medicine one of efficiency and accuracy and gives power to the patients to communicate with their doctors on their own time and from anywhere.   

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