June 28, 2016

THE KEY TO HEALTH CARE REFORM IS REDUCING CONSUMPTION:

Really Want to Lower Healthcare Costs? Stay Away From Your Doctor (Eric Pianin, June 28, 2016, Fiscal Times)

It can be as simple as a patient's brief phone call or Skype chat with a clinician about an earache or skin rash. Or as routine as hooking up to a phone and  transmitting heart rates, blood pressure and other vital signs to a doctor's office a little too distant to visit.

Or it could be something as dramatic as Doctors Without Borders relaying tough medical treatment questions about victims of terrorist violence or rare diseases in the Sudan, Iraq and other war-torn regions to a network of 280 experts around the globe.

Not all that long ago, the notion of obtaining medical advice and treatment over the phone, email or video seemed exotic and risky. There were too many confusing questions about state regulations, which services would be covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance, and whether patients were actually receiving quality care.

But as Melinda Beck of The Wall Street Journal wrote on Monday, many of those obstacles and concerns have been surmounted, and the era of the "virtual doctor" is upon us.

"Driven by faster internet connections, ubiquitous smartphones and changing insurance standards, more health providers are turning to electronic communications to do their jobs - and it's upending the delivery of health care," Beck wrote.

As the American Telemedicine Association defines it, telemedicine involves the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information often using the most basic of telecommunications technology - including the internet, wireless, satellite feeds and telephone lines.

There are at present roughly 200 "telemedicine networks" with 3,500 service sites operating throughout the United States. More than 15 million Americans annually receive some type of medical care remotely. One of the most common practices is cardiac monitoring - a service currently provided to about one million Americans.

Posted by at June 28, 2016 8:41 PM

  

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