Nearly everyone has experienced the feeling of a cold or illness, and wondered if they should call the doctor. There are several phases within that debate. To begin with, it’s costly to visit the doctor, particularly if you don’t have insurance. In addition, you’re probably not feeling up to getting in your car, driving to the office, and waiting in the uncomfortable, germ covered chairs for an hour before seeing the doctor.
Aside from all of that, sometimes you become ill at inconvenient times, such as on a weekend or in the middle of the night when clinics and urgent care centers are typically closed. It costs an arm and a leg to visit the emergency room, even with insurance, so you have the choice to wait it out or pay extra.
It’s the age-old debate, but it doesn’t have to go on any longer. Thanks to a number of technological advancements, patients can receive medical advice and even have a prescription written without leaving the comfort of their own home, thanks to virtual doctor visits.
The Evolution of the Doctor Visit
Over a century ago, the town doctor typically made house calls. He traveled to the patient’s home via horse or carriage, and administered medical help at any hour of the day. As time went on, doctors found it much more convenient and medically effective to congregate in clinics where they kept their equipment and medicine. It’s served the world effectively for quite some time, but it never beat the convenience factor of house calls.
Thanks to telecommunication, patients can enjoy house calls once more. Though this service has been around for a few years, it hasn’t been widely used or accepted by the healthcare community. Now, doctors and specialists in every field of medicine are beginning to advocate video conference calls and video streaming apps to reduce clinic wait times and increase patient comfort.
The Services Provided
When patients become ill, it’s easy for them to jump on their computer or smartphone and visit a website or app that will connect them with a whole community of doctors, nurses, and specialists. As long as the internet connection is strong, the video will be clear, and security will be guaranteed. The doctor will then chat with the patient, make some recommendations, and even send an email prescription to the pharmacist if it’s a common, non-controlled substance.
The most important thing for patients to remember about online doctor’s visits is that it may be convenient, but it won’t always replace a regular visit. Most of the time when a patient visits an online doctor, it will be to receive advice, not necessarily treatment. Oftentimes, the doctor will recommend going to a physical office. Either way, this service provides extreme convenience for the patients and an accurate online knowledge base that can’t be matched by internet content.
Why This Technology Is Taking Off Now
As mentioned previously, the technology has been around several years, but hasn’t caught on as a suitable healthcare service until recently. Though legal and insurance limitations were a factor, the major stumbling block has been the restrictions on technology, including poor video quality, unreliable connections, and inadequate internet security. Many of these services have developed enough over the last few years that medical professionals feel more comfortable with the service.
Though the quality of video helps, the biggest reason for the technology’s popularity today is the boost of convenience and accessibility. At this stage in time, 64 percent of Americans own smartphones and rely on them for everything from staying in touch with others to purchasing items from retail stores. This percentage has doubled in just five years, and consumers are getting used to the convenience and endless capabilities of their phones.
With the help of video streaming apps and security technologies, developers have created apps and video streaming services to facilitate a doctor’s visit from nearly anywhere. This is just one of the many technologically advanced steps in telemedicine meant to provide more convenience and accessibility for users in a rapidly advancing world.