Going to see a doctor? Why wait?
The concept of connecting with a doctor on demand has been around for a very long time. But it has been in the last 10 years or so with the proliferation of high speed internet connectivity, that the idea of having an on-demand video encounter with a provider has become ubiquitously available.
Telemedicine, tele-health, virtual medicine, virtual encounters, and doctor-on-demand, are all different names for the same concept. However, there are several different ways that virtualizing access to a provider will be available in the marketplace.
Direct-To-Consumer. This is the national provider access services which are being adopted by payers and self insured employers as a way to divert traffic from the ED, and give patient fast access to care.
Self-Service. This is actually a feature of Direct-To-Consumer, and it is the concept of building in care paths and assessment protocols into the system so when as much data can be captured prior to the actual encounter. There is lots of talk about artificial intelligence in healthcare today, and this is a great application.
Provider Collaboration. This is a feature of most tele-health platforms and it means a provider connects with another provider instead of a patient.
Spaces. The idea of spaces, or private locations providing access to tele-health, including dedicated high quality equipment for the video and audio as well as biometric devices of various sorts. The article mentions clinical settings and potentially home settings, but the availability of spaces I believe will be broad. Imagine spaces at major hotels in resorts, or at the mall, or downtown as a city service.
One area not mentioned related to virtual medicine is the proliferation of personal digital electronic biometric devices and the availability of using AI to provide real-time alerts to the individual, or pooling “big data” for population health. Everyone carries a cell phone and the potential for collecting biometric data from a device carried on the persona is not science fiction.
The biggest question about these emerging developments is not whether health data will be used by the person individually, the person with their provider, or the provider with another consulting provider. This is happening and the data exchanged and the means of exchange will become increasingly sophisticated through new biometric sensor devices.
The more critical question is to what extend will our laws evolve to protect the rights of the individual’s collected data verses the needs of the collective population. With the right to keep my bio data private be subservient to the societal need to track and study an emerging epidemic that requires I submit my data?