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E-Visits To the Doctor To Top 75 Million In the US, Canada This Year

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the billing-codes-had-to-catch-up dept.

Medicine 35

Lucas123 (935744) writes "Telehealth medicine, or communicating remotely with patients through electronic means, will be used by nearly one in six North Americans this year, according to Deloitte. With an aging Baby Boomer population and a growing shortage of primary care physicians, electronic visits (eVisits) reduce both time and cost in treating common ailments. The overall cost of in-person primary physician visits worldwide is $175 billion. Globally, the number of eVisits will climb to 100 million this year, potentially saving over $5 billion when compared to the cost of in-person doctor visits. Last November, The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) revamped its patient portal, renaming it MyUPMC, and rolling out AnywhereCare, offering patients throughout Pennsylvania eVisits with doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week either over the phone or through video conferencing. The service offers a 30-minute or less wait time and saves the hospital system more than $86 per patient over a traditional visit."

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The TRUTH about Slashdot - Mod +5 INFORMATIVE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637467)

Let us play a thought game, for a moment.

Imagine a giant penis flying towards your mouth, and there's nothing you can do about it. And you're like "Oh man, I'm gonna have to suck this thing", and you brace yourself to suck this giant penis. But then, at the last moment, it changes trajectory and hits you in the eye. You think to yourself "Well, at least I got that out of the way", but then the giant penis rears back and stabs your eye again, and again, and again. Eventually, this giant penis is penetrating your gray matter, and you begin to lose control of your motor skills. That's when the giant penis slaps you across the cheek, causing you to fall out of your chair. Unable to move and at your most vulnerable, the giant penis finally lodges itself in your anus, where it rests uncomfortably for 4, maybe 5 hours.

That's what using Slashdot is like.

so how does it work for illnesses? (1)

alen (225700) | about 6 months ago | (#47637485)

because every time i took my kids to the doctor they take the temperature and blood pressure right there and the doctor needs to do a physical exam to verify the symptoms are bacterial or viral

Re:so how does it work for illnesses? (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#47637699)

With amazing modern technology you can, in the comfort and privacy of your very own home (certainly with more comfort and likely more privacy than a typical clinic) take your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and oxygenation. The whole kit would cost less than $100. While it is true that the physical exam is often important, in reality it's a smallish bit of the diagnostic tree. Certainly telemedicine can't solve every issue, but then again, neither will a visit to a doctor's office.

Just one more change in medicine. Next up: You won't really be seeing a doctor (or nurse) on the screen. Just an avatar and a script [slashdot.org] .

Re:so how does it work for illnesses? (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | about 6 months ago | (#47639057)

> You won't really be seeing a doctor (or nurse) on the screen. Just an avatar and a script.

Dr. Watson I presume?

If smart watches take off, these could be your kits. Last I heard the rumor mills have Apple coming out with one next month, with "more than 10 sensors" (not all of them necessarily being biometric ones, granted), and MS with one with 11 sensors the following month. Especially with the fanatic following that Apple has (in devices), if they can make the smartwatch "cool", then smartphone makers who are seeing sales stagnate due to no more new compelling features can sell a few generations of smartwatches with progressively more and advanced sensors reading more of one's vitals.

Re:so how does it work for illnesses? (1)

Barny (103770) | about 6 months ago | (#47640197)

And this will stop one of the worst epidemics of the modern age (T2 diabetes) how?

These are not the only things that need to be tested, regular check-ups should never be done away with.

And sometimes you need to (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 months ago | (#47640499)

I have a BP machine at home. Why? Because I have what my doctor calls "white coat hypertension." What that means is I get nervous when I go in to the doctor's office and my BP goes up. Measured at home, my BP is on the high side of normal, but fine. At the Dr's office it is at the high side of prehypertension or low side of hypertension. It's not a difference in the machines, they have me bring mine in to check the calibration.

Ok well that means they can't keep an accurate record from their measurements. So they need me to measure it myself, which I do, and then let them see the results. These days such a thing is very feasible since electronics technology means we can produce quite accurate automated systems, that aren't that much.

For that matter a large part of your physical can be, and is, automated that being the blood test. You need a skilled person to draw the blood, but after that it is usually a computerized system that does all the analysis. It can be done by a separate lab from your doctor.

You still need to see them in person for plenty of things, but there is plenty of stuff that can be reported to them remotely and they can just look at the results. I don't see this as a bad thing, personally.

Saves the hospitals money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637525)

Key word there, the patient still pays the same amount as if they're with the doctor in person. It's just another way for doctors and hospitals to charge people by having them pay to be told they need to come to the office in person for a more thorough examination.

Re:Saves the hospitals money (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#47637559)

do they bill your insurance the same price as an in person visit? or say a price that is a little smaller?

Re:Saves the hospitals money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637587)

Yes, it's the same price as an in-person visit. Their reasoning is the same as what was listed in the article, it takes less time and is more convenient for the patient, even though not as much can be done by the doctor. It saves them time AND money, only half of those benefits are passed on to the patients.

Re:Saves the hospitals money (3, Insightful)

udachny (2454394) | about 6 months ago | (#47638125)

The patient gets plenty of benefits from this, one being not having to go to the clinic and wait in line, not having to drive somewhere, not having to interrupt your day. With mobile Internet you should be able to connect to a doctor on the go.

There are costs associated with setting the system up and training the stuff to work with it, to maintain and support it, but the benefits are for both, the hospitals, clinics and for patients.

In any case, you are not forced to use it.

Re:Saves the hospitals money (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#47638581)

it's not like doctors are just hanging around in front of a terminal waiting for you. you still get to initiate the call, then wait in a queue until a doctor is available [not necessarily one you have seen before], and they probably bill you if you walk away from the terminal and don't run back immediately when you finally get to 'see' the doctor.

Re:Saves the hospitals money (1)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 6 months ago | (#47640041)

I agree, but the most important one is NOT being in the waiting room with loads of infectious people for minutes or hours!

Thought FEDS just went after FeEX for e-doctors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637575)

what a ripoff...

Outsourcing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637597)

Now they can outsource doctors to India and the Philippines.

Re:Outsourcing. (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 6 months ago | (#47637625)

The AMA and HIPAA will not let that happen.

Re:Outsourcing. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637943)

The AMA and HIPAA will not let that happen.

Why in the heck would you think that is true? Where I work every single bit of handwritten information about you is already sent to the Philippines for transcription. Nearly everything else is too because electronic records are sent for medical coding. A Bangladeshi company handles collections so they have access to nearly all of your information so they can do their job. Also, we sell discharge data to several foreign companies, because Bill Archer, a stupid DINO like the rest of the so-called Democrats in this country, decided that information should not be protected.

Even worse is that HIPAA is limited to only a select few people. If you're not a "covered entity," then you are under no requirement to protect patient privacy.

Re: Outsourcing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637629)

According to the summary, we're a sickly lot. Apparently one in six is weak and wane. The article never said that at all. Better call an editor, not a doctor!

Re: Outsourcing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637661)

I assume the major use of this will be for filling and refilling special prescriptions with patients that require a talk with a doctor first, and from what I found those numbers are under-exaggerated. http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/nearly-7-in-10-americans-take-prescription-drugs-mayo-clinic-olmsted-medical-center-find

It still begs the question if this is something that benefits the patient or just the doctor.

Re:Outsourcing. (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about 6 months ago | (#47637649)

I support this. In my experience US primary care doctors are not very good. They rely too much on technology, lab tests, imaging, drugs and specialists, instead of using their skills for proper diagnosis. OTOH, non-American and non-European doctors are more self-sufficient.

Also, many doctors, nurses and pharmacists in the US are hopelessly overqualified for what they do, leading to additional costs.

Re:Outsourcing. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#47637727)

US medical practitioners are both overqualified and 'not very good'. A very disturbing conjunction of abilities...

Compared to a mythical Star-Trek like gauge of medical quality (rapid efficient diagnosis and treatment, all happening within the space of a commercial break), nobody is 'very good' - medicine is still pretty primitive. Just hang tight for another 50-60 years and things should be better.

Oh. Wait.

Re:Outsourcing. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637825)

I support this. In my experience US primary care doctors are not very good. They rely too much on technology, lab tests, imaging, drugs and specialists, instead of using their skills for proper diagnosis. OTOH, non-American and non-European doctors are more self-sufficient.

Are they really all that more self-sufficient, or do we simply find the US doctor reliant on all that technology, lab tests, imaging, drugs, and specialists not because they are incompetent or inferior, but do so in order to simply cover their ass enough to avoid a career-crushing lawsuit.

It helps when you take into account all the factors when making claims like this.

Re:Outsourcing. (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about 6 months ago | (#47638547)

It does not matter what the factors are, what matters is the result.

However, if you want my opinion, it is a result of the insane amount of meddling by the government in the healthcare industry. The result will be outsourcing as per this discussion, and medical tourism.

Re:Outsourcing. (1)

volmtech (769154) | about 6 months ago | (#47638495)

Most visits are because of the American drug war. I have to see my physician every two months because my insomnia medication is soooo abusable. Can't have addicts sleeping all day. My wife has a prescription for an ADD medication that helps keep her awake. She has to take a drug test to make sure she is actually using it, can't have those addicts being productive now can we. Imagine a cocktail of these, probably something like dividing by zero.

Re:Outsourcing. (2)

kkwst2 (992504) | about 6 months ago | (#47639033)

There are many primary care doctors in the US that are at least as good as foreign doctors. However, there are many things that factor into your observation. The first is that many highly skilled physicians choose to sub-specialize because it is both more academically stimulating and more lucrative (I am a sub-sub-specialized physician). For better or worse, the field is geared toward sub-specialization. This dilutes the number of quality primary care physicians. It also puts a ton of time pressure on primary physicians, since we have fewer primary physicians per capita than many other nations. They simply don't have time to perform thorough exams so they rely on referrals and testing.

Also, there are expectations by patients placed on primary physicians for tests and drugs. Primary physicians, under financial and practice pressure to keep things moving, tend to get into a pattern of giving the patients what they want to keep things moving. This tends to create bad habits. I will say that this happens much less at good academic institutions where there are somewhat less financial pressures and physicians try to keep up to date due to their academic status.

I do also believe there has been some erosion in physical exam skills in modern physicians that come from less reliance on them. If you can get a chest film to diagnose pneumonia, why waste 10 minutes percussing on a patients back? In reality, the sensitivity and specificity of percussion of a skilled physician is probably significantly less than a chest film, and if you're not facile, then forget it.

Nice savings! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637771)

And these savings will be passed on to the patient AM I RITE?! Oh no? You mean they will go into that 1% limbo thing again? Thanks technology!

Probing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47637931)

How are they going to probe the patient in the ass? Doctors looove doing that for most things. The anus must be a treasure trove of information.

So, it might provide minor savings (2)

penguinoid (724646) | about 6 months ago | (#47637959)

Does the amount of savings expected include the additional costs of misdiagnosis that might be higher over the phone than in-person? Alternately, the savings could be even higher if it leads to serious conditions being diagnosed sooner from people being more willing to make a phone call than visit the hospital.

Re:So, it might provide minor savings (2)

Bill Dog (726542) | about 6 months ago | (#47638961)

Every phone call will start with:

"This call is being monitored for legal purposes."

<two minutes of legal disclaimers, regarding the lesser reliability of diagnosing over the phone>

"Do you consent to all of these terms? Press 1 for yes, or hang up for no."

And OTOH, the cost savings could be overcome by more demands on the healthcare system from people more willing to make a phone call on the spot than an appointment for a office visit for who knows how long into the future. What I usually do is wait and see if <mysterious symptom> goes away on its own in a few days. But in the back of my mind, I know I can't get in to see a doctor immediately (excluding going to urgent care, which from experience can soak up half your day, first with waiting around an hour or two to be seen, then time for test results to come back, while the doctore you're assigned is multitasking between a bunch of other visitors). So with the phone call option, I'd probably call every time. Even for the same price, and up to half an hour wait (put it on speakerphone), if I actually get to be heard by an MD.

(And this way, maybe many of the folks who got medical degrees and wanted to practice medicine, but could only get a job working for an insurance company evaluating diagnoses and claims, might be able to get into tele-practice at least.)

BS (4, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#47637969)

This article is total nonsense:

Electronic visits or telemedicine is comprised of electronic document exchanges, telephone consultations, email or texting, and videoconferencing between physicians and patients.

So you call your doctor: "please refill my cholesterol pills"
That counts as an evisit.
Your doctor sends you message: "Your test results are in"
That counts as an evisit.

The summary makes it sound like there were 75million video conference visits... which is not even remotely the case.

Re:BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47642395)

Not much different that most primary care doctors. While some may allow you to refill prescriptions without a visit, getting test results almost always involves a visit - if you want to know and discuss them, that is.

I know, it's /. (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | about 6 months ago | (#47638861)

But could someone kindly explain what "hoirs" (in the summary) are?

Re:I know, it's /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47638887)

u dont kno engleesh wen u c it?

Re:I know, it's /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47638983)

Their what gave you VD.
[Intentional misspelling so that Slashdotters will understand.]

Re:I know, it's /. (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 6 months ago | (#47639051)

It's french for "heirs". Gezz, pay attention to the context.

WAIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47641041)

I can ask my doctor for Vicodin on the internet and actually get them?!! I need some bad I have a nasty e-cut from falling after taking an arro.. Pfft no time to explain I gotta download Skype right now!

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