Progress for Virtual Medicine – in Public Perception and Policy

A recent New York Times article discusses various initiatives in ‘Virtual Medicine.’ Several companies are exploring online technologies to enable faster and less-costly access to medical care.

OptumHealth, a division of UnitedHealth Group, is piloting “NowClinic,” where a patient can videoconference with a doctor and get medical advice and even non-controlled prescriptions, for a nominal fee, without health insurance. From the article: “OptumHealth believes NowClinic will improve health care by ameliorating some of the stresses on the system today, like wasted time dealing with appointments and insurance claims, a shortage of primary care physicians and limited access to care for many patients.”

The medical establishment is resistant to these changes. “…last year, lawmakers passed legislation that allowed doctors and patients to establish a relationship online, though the Hawaii Medical Association opposed the bill.’ Many laws, and many medical associations, are not ready for this new technology, but some test programs are revealing that the public is ready. Also from the article: “In a recent study, a Harvard research team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that patients were comfortable with computers playing a central role in their health care and expected that the Web would substitute for face-to-face doctor visits for routine health problems.”

At KwikMed, we believe that there are many opportunities for new technology to make great advances in the efficiency, timeliness, and costs of healthcare. In the near future, we hope that more lawmakers and oversight boards will realize the benefits and savings of online medicine, while still protecting patient safety. We are confident that our approach to online medicine is safe and effective. In fact, independent research has shown that our online medical assessments are more thorough and comprehensive than most face-to-face doctor visits.

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