NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

TELEMEDICINE HOLDS PROMISE FOR HEALTH CARE

February 13, 2008

Telemedicine can remedy several of the problems currently plaguing the health care industry, according to a new report by Devon Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

For example:

  • For many ailments, the patient doesn't need to be in front of the doctor, but his or her information does.
  • Using technology to provide the doctor with thorough information can, in many circumstances, replace visits to a doctor or to the emergency room.
  • With more complete information accessible in electronic medical records, doctors could make faster and more accurate diagnoses of patient problems.

Furthermore:

  • A tech-savvy doctor can respond to a phone call or e-mail with a diagnosis, thereby saving some patients any visit at all.
  • That would expedite the diagnosing process for both doctor and patient, as some potential patients could avoid not only expensive emergency room trips but also less-costly trips to doctors' offices and wasted time in waiting rooms.
  • In addition, chronic illnesses such as diabetes also could benefit from telemedicine by allowing patients to use technology to collect and transmit data about their condition to their doctor.
  • Instead of regularly seeing patients, the doctor could monitor their health remotely, and then make an appointment if a concern arises.

"The only thing stopping us from using telemedicine to our advantage is a reluctance to control our own health care dollars," says Herrick.  "An insurance company does not want to look for ways to spend their money -- and they think it is their money.  If we control the dollars, as I do with my Health Savings Account, the consumer can decide the value."

Source: Jillian Melchior, "Telemedicine Holds Promise for Health Care," Heartland Institute, March 2, 2008.

 

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