March 7, 2015


10 things your primary-care doctor won't tell you (Elizabeth O'Brien, Mar 6, 2015, Market Watch)

3. Medically speaking, you don't need to be here

Patients often visit primary-care doctors for common ailments, and technology has evolved to the point where a doctor doesn't need to be in the same room with a patient to listen to the patient's heart or look into his throat. And yet, the vast majority of primary medicine still happens face to face. "It takes place in the office because that's how they get paid," says Tom Blue, chief strategy officer for the American Academy of Private Physicians, an organization that supports the growth of "concierge" medicine and other forms of personalized medicine, whose practitioners may not take insurance.

Telemedicine, which typically connects doctors and patients via video, is gaining wider acceptance. There were an estimated 10 million telemedicine visits in the U.S. in 2014, and that number is expected to grow to 21 million by 2018, according to an analysis by IHS, a research analytics firm. (The 10 million visits included some conducted via telephone, but analysts expect phone-based telemedicine to continue to decline in favor of more modern technology.)

But it is not yet common practice for insurers to reimburse doctors for virtual encounters, says Walker Ray a retired pediatrician and vice president of the Physicians Foundation, a Boston-based organization that gives grants to improve health care delivery. "The insurers have really been very hesitant until they see how it affects their bottom line," Ray says. What's more, medical licenses generally don't cross state lines, creating headaches for would-be teledoctors.

Robert G. Darling, chief medical officer of Patronus Medical, in Ashburn, Va., is licensed to practice medicine in every place where he has patients--that's 15 states and Washington, D.C. His concierge practice, which does not accept insurance, often uses telemedicine. It's more convenient for the patient, and can be healthier to boot, he says: "Doctors' waiting rooms are a great place to get sick."

...which is why it needs to come out of your own pocket.

Posted by at March 7, 2015 7:16 AM

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