No time to leave your house or office to attend a doctor's appointment? Well, telemedicine is here for you. Telemedicine allows persons to connect with doctors online for medical assistance. The business of telemedicine is not new and has been around for over a decade, the Denver Channel reports. Telemedicine, however, is definitely garnering more attention now that Google is jumping on the band wagon.
"When you're searching for basic health information -- from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning -- our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available...We're trying this new feature to see if it's useful to people." – Google SpokespersonGoogle is in the process of testing its telemedicine feature. The telemdeicine trial though free, is only available in California and Massachusetts. So how does the telemedicine feature work? According to the Guardian, when an ailment or symptom is searched for via Google, the option to 'talk with a doctor now' is revealed. This is accompanied by a message prompt that states,
"Based on your search query, we think you are trying to understand a medical condition. Here you can find health care providers who you can visit with over video chat."CBS reported on the manner in which these doctor 'visits' occur, referring to the telemedicine phenomenon as 'web-side manner'. Physicians that offer telemedicine engage their patients in video chats through which they are able to observe symptoms much like they would do in a hospital room.
"We're able to see tonsils and skin rashes and conjunctivitis…I don't think that would make much of a difference online rather than being in person." – Dr. Lauralee YaldenCBS also reported that 22 percent of healthcare employees are in the business of offering telemedicine and 71 percent plan to offer telemedicine by 2017. There is still concern surrounding whether or not telemedicine beats actual human interaction. Of course, you can never use telemedicine to address more serious medical issues over cyberspace and using the internet to make diagnoses does have its setbacks. Bert Vargas, Mayo Clinic neurologist pointed out that practicing telemedicine can cause you to miss important things during a session, such as poor motor skills. But like Vargas, not everyone is buying into the telemedicine craze.
How do you feel about telemedicine? Can it potentially replace face-to-face visits for trivial ailments? And are you willing to place the convenience of telemedicine over thoroughness of a physical exam?