Is Skype Next Stage of Healthcare?

Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi kept telling the American public that we needed to model our socialized medicine program after ones in Canada and Great Britain.

The National Health Service (NHS) of Great Britain is a fine model to follow.  In the past couple of years the NHS has been faced with budget deficits (currently totaling £20 billion or $32billion), forcing them to cut back medical coverage to the British people.  Some services will no longer be covered and others will only be partially covered.

In the latest cost saving scheme, Dr. Dan Poulter, the Health Minister has announced a program that could save the NHS up to £2.9 billion ($3.2 billion) almost immediately.  Patterned from a program being used in India, they will be having general practitioners conduct routine office visits with their patients via Skype or iPads.  The NHS officials also claim that the virtual clinics will make it easier for parents by avoiding the need to find a day care or babysitter in order to see the doctor.

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In more rural areas, trained nurses will have iPads to help them care for the local residents.  Things like lab results could be easily accessed via phone apps and if the lab reports are negative for a certain test, the patient will sent a text message instead of having to see a doctor in person to find out.  The NHS estimates that about a third of all office visits could be easily conducted via Skype or iPad, but that those requiring a face-to-face visit with the doctor will still be able to do so.

Opponents to the system say that tying so much importance to technology may hinder many of the elderly or more remote patients who do not possess the technology to connect with their doctor this way.

I can see the advantage of such a system being used, but also have to question some of the draw backs.  Not everyone has a thermometer or pressure cuff at home.  It also makes it difficult for a doctor to listen to one’s lungs or breathing if they have a cough or congestion.  If someone Skypes the doctor to complain of a sore throat, will the doctor be able to tell if it is just a common sore throat or a case of highly contagious strep throat?

How many wrong diagnoses will be made via a video visit compared to face-to-face visits?  How many wrong prescriptions will be written based upon these flawed diagnoses?

But you can bet your bottom dollar that the Obamacare people will pick up on the virtual clinic idea soon and will not just make it optional, but in many cases, make it mandatory, especially when so many doctors in the US are quitting because of Obamacare.  Fewer doctors plus more patients plus government dictates = virtual clinics plus poorer care plus higher mortality rates.

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