Skype has been a wonderful invention for many people. They can easily and affordably connect with friends and family who have moved to a different state, or even a different country. Or they can simply call a loved one to share an insane concert moment or a breathtaking view on nature. Business rely on the app to collaborate with experts from across the planet, or across the country.
And now, a new paper has revealed that Skype is becoming more and more popular among doctors as well, as telemedicine is starting to take off and become the preferred interaction between doctors and patients.
Patients are fond of virtual consultations because they don’t have to get out of bed when they feel sick, get dressed, then go wait in line in an uncomfortable public place for hours on end. They can just open the laptop from the comfort of their couch, or bed, talk directly to a qualified medical expert, and save some time, money and energy while they’re at it.
And there’s another important feature – the hours that patients can call a doctor are much more flexible. Those with busy jobs or late night symptoms can reach doctors latter in the day via Skype, while those who live on the outskirts of a town can reach them sooner than if they had to drive all the way to the hospital.
Doctors approve of the method as it cuts down on emergency room costs that health providers have to pay and allows healthcare workers to see more patients in a single day. On top of everything, doctors also argue that telemedicine makes it much easier to help patients who are in need of long-term medical care.
Towers Watson, a human resources consultancy firm, adds that of telemedicine were to become the norm, the insurance costs would be cut down and the savings number would grow by $6 billion per year for each company that buys coverage for its employees.
There is a question, however, among some members of the medical community whether or not telemedicine is indeed as accurate, helpful and beneficial to patients as a face-to-face appointment. Dr. Lawrence R. Wechsler, chairman at the University of Pittsburgh’s Schools of Health Sciences, the Department of Neurology and vice president of telemedicine services believes that the answer is yes.
The chairman gave a statement saying that these virtual consultations are especially helpful when a patient is in danger of having a stroke. He points out one of the huge advantages that telemedicine offers, which is that a medical experts that’s hundreds of miles away from the patient or the local hospital can treat said patient in just a few short minutes.
In order for telemedicine to succeed in the long run and become a sustainable model, United States state officials across the country have to see it as a reimbursable service. Medical experts have already asked them to recognize the service as such, with Matt Levi, virtual health services director over at the CHI Franciscan, informing that a lot of their services are being held back a little right now due to lack of reimbursement.
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