I remember watching all those episodes of Little House on the Prairie when the fastest way to get medical assistance was to send a child (or even a dog) to the doc’s house. Seat pouring down their face, in rain or heat or snow, they would pound on his door and yell "Doc Baker! Doc Baker!"
In Denmark more patients with chronic illness be teated via the phone or over the computer. The Copenhagen Post reports…
Doctors believe ‘telemedicine’ is one solution to ease the burden created by personnel shortages within the health service. They also say it would reduce unnecessary transport to and from hospitals, open up more hospital beds and get the patients themselves to play a part in their treatments.
Funen Hospital’s program provides the trial patients with a ‘patient case’ containing the necessary equipment and instruments needed for the patient to measure vital signs such as pulse and blood oxygen content.
In addition, the case also operates as a laptop computer that has a direct connection with the hospital. Doctors are able to see the patient on the screen and talk to and advise them about whether they are taking their measurements correctly and whether their condition requires a visit to the hospital.
So far, patients seem to like it. Though I can see the USA adopting this kind of treatment because of the technology we have available, I don’t believe it will happen in my lifetime. Why?
(1) the chance of a doctor being sued over a misconstrued email or inability to understand symptoms is too great in our country;
(2) I don’t think enough people who have illnesses would have the ability to fully get the software running correctly. And with medications and illnesses causing cognitive difficulties, even if we figured it out, it’s doubtful that we could use it during a crises situation, like a panic attack, as some Denmark patients have.
It’s nice technology has gotten to the point where we can communicate via email or video but I think we’re still close to running for Doc Baker’s house than turning on our computer and having our actual doctor sitting there waiting to hear our latest symptoms.