Telemedicine is such a new idea that no one is entirely certain what it’s going to do to the medical profession in the long term, but it’s certainly catching on among many providers thanks to its obvious low-cost advantages. Right now, telemedicine is mostly offered by specialty tech start-ups, but hospitals are getting in on the action in order to help underserved rural communities.
Simply put, telemedicine is a service that allows patients to call a doctor with video chat on a smartphone to discuss their symptoms. While this sort of patient visit isn’t enough for many medical conditions, it’s still a good way to get a prescription for a common malady or to get a referral to a relevant specialist if the condition is more serious.
A growing number of businesses who offer health care to their employees are already getting on board with telemedicine, since it’s a much cheaper alternative to a full checkup. Even many prisons are taking advantage of this new health care delivery system, since getting doctors in or inmates out of the facility can take a lot of time and effort.
However, not everyone is quite ready to embrace this new technology. The Texas Medical Board, for one, has recently passed a new rule that requires doctors to issue prescriptions in person or not at all. This would essentially destroy the telemedicine business model throughout the state, and although the board has claimed that this is to protect patients, they haven’t bothered to point out any instances of telemedicine malpractice as proof.
One other way in which many hospitals are improving care while lowering costs is by hiring medical scribes from companies like ProScribe. Our professional medical assistants aren’t licensed physicians, but they can still handle things like collecting test results, filing insurance claims, setting up appointments, wrestling with the electronic medical record system, and otherwise taking on the tedium of modern medicine so that doctors can spend more of their time with their patients—whether they do so in person or over the phone.