Ethical dilemma in healthcare.

Introduction :

The health care industry is segmenting into what industry professionals have dubbed tele-health.  Some doctors and pharmacists are now offering patients an alternative to traditional in-office visits.

Is this an ethical dilemma?

What is tele-health?telehealth

Tele-heath is a visit by a doctor or pharmacist with a patient over a video telephone.

Tele-health allows patients to see the doctor from the comforts of home.

Benefits of tele-health to patients

  1. The patients can see a specialist easily.
  2. Tele-health is more flexible than in-office visits.
  3. The cost is very low. (average cost 45.00 dollars)
  4. A patient can see his doctor from anywhere in the World.
  5. It saves the patient time by allowing them to make appointments around their schedules.
  6. Pharmacies like Rite Aid have semi-private areas setup for patients.

Benefits of tele-health to physicians

  1. A doctor can communicate with any of his patients by telephone therefore saving him the cost of real estate, staff, utility bills, and more.
  2. The doctor can use his home or some other private site as an office.
  3. Doctors can see more patients thus increasing their productivity.
  4. Specialty doctors can see patients not easily accessible through normal visiting methods.

What are the dangers of tele-health?

  • Hackers infiltrating the phone line?

This is an obvious question because of the privacy concerns on the internet.  I am sure the doctors make every attempt to keep their patient’s privacy protected, but we all know nothing on the internet is totally private.

  • Quality of care compromised.

It is hard to imagine a patient getting quality care.  Patients are notorious for forgetting to ask their doctor important questions about their health care.  You can get quality care if you make a list of questions to ask the doctor, but if you are that regimented more than likely you would still benefit from an in-office visit.

  • You lose the ability to get personable with your doctor?

A face to face meeting is always better than a cold screen.   It would be difficult to notice a person’s mannerisms in front of a monitor, however if you are a technology savvy person tele-health maybe ideal for you.

Which companies are participating in tele-health .

The biggest player I have found so far is a company called American Well.  They have developed a system to see patients over the telephone including our American veterans who often do not have much of a choice.

I have included a video for you to decide for yourself.

Would you feel comfortable seeing a doctor through video conferencing?

What are your privacy concerns with this technology?

Is it a good idea  for patients to save money by putting their lives in the hands of a face on a computer screen?

Watch the video and I will see you on the other side.

 

Did the video address any of your concerns?

Would you take the risk of saving a few dollars.

In fairness tele-health has been around in some form for years.

Mostly home confined patients and patients unable to move around have been seeing doctors by video out of convenience, but does that change your mind about tele-health.

Do you think tele-health should go mainstream?

In conclusion:

I think tele-health is for people who know the risks and realize the limitations of this technology.  I agree with using this method to reach people who otherwise would not visit the doctor.

The most important aspect of your health care is you and that means you need to take your health care serious by asking questions, researching, networking, and educating yourself on your health concerns.

Healthcare is changing.  In the future we will worry about not having health care.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield is offering tele-health in Minnesota to its members.

Health care is not all about medicines, comfort and nurture goes a long way toward healing.

Let me know how you feel about the direction heath care is taking.

Legal and Ethical Aspects of Healthcare – S. a. M. McLean – Paperback

Comments

  1. Hi Michael,

    It is just not right to put insurance company and ethical in the same sentence. The insurance companies are anything but ethical.

    I worked for the Big B as a telephonic nurse. This was a good thing for members, but the tele-health isn’t something I would like because of how difficult it is to diagnose someone without seeing them or running tests. Just my opinion. Sally

    • That is a very good point, but I think you are right. People need to realize just because it saves you time now the results could be harmful in the long run.

      Any insurance company is looking at their bottom line first and then they decide if they have to do it.

  2. I am not convinced something like this is a good idea. It might be OK for common colds and minor cases but there are serious issues with this methods.

    • Shalu, that is exactly how I feel, but you know how some people are, they will never5 go to the real doctor face to face. This time technology maybe going too far when you start playing with lives.

      • I agree, something like this might be OK for minor ailments but the question is “what if”. Not a great solution in my opinion. This is exactly why you need a doctor in the family.

        • Shalu it seems like people are willing to put their lives on the line to save a buck. The economy is a big part of this reasoning. People confined to their home would good candidates but I still would want a doctor to check in every and then.

  3. Hmmm… interesting article Michael. Truth be told, not all that medical entities have gotten into this. Goodness, we can’t even get physicians to install electronic medical records and this is a requirement! However, it does exist, and in general I don’t have a problem with it as a follow up tool, but as an initial diagnosis tool, well, that might be something quite different. It will be interesting to see how it progresses over time.

    • Mitch most doctors are reluctant to change, but as the video states, some companies see money-making opportunities. Doctors are like most of us, some doctors if they see an opportunity to make money they will at least try it. A doctor could probably run a practice and do tele-health on the side. I knew because of your background in healthcare you would be interested in this article that is why I shared it with you. :)

      • And I appreciate it. These days more doctors are trying to get out of private practice and hoping hospitals will buy them out because they’ve learned that the business end of things is more difficult than they thought it would be, especially in today’s economy.

        By the way, did you know that your check boxes are duplicated and if we don’t click both boxes it won’t accept our comments?

        • That is exactly what happens. A practice is not easy to operate. Insurance companies like it because it is cheaper. Patients are taking a calculated risk.

          I knew about the double check boxes, but I have been unable to get rid of them. I am sorry for the inconvenience. I will work on them. thanks

  4. Hi Michael,

    I would’ve never thought that something like this is going to become an option. I think it’s not a bad idea overall, but sometime doctors misdiagnose even when you are breathing right next to them. But as you pointed out, it would be an alternative to not going at all to the doctors.

    Mariella

    • There is no way of getting every diagnosis correct all the time, but I think you increase your chances of mis-diagnosis when you allow a computer screen to be your eye. Sure doctors probably compensate for this, but patients are sometimes unpredictable. What you think is common sense may not be to someone else. I worked an urgent care clinic and I was surprised at some of the answers patients gave.