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The Virtual Doctor: Using Video Conferencing for Healthcare Visits?

May 7, 2013 | Telepresence Options

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Story and Images by Tracey E. Schelmetic / Health Tech Zone

If you're past a certain age and you have been to the doctor lately, you've probably noticed that things have changed from 30 or 40 years ago. Waiting rooms, which once held a few patients, now look more like packed concert arenas. Doctors are seldom on time, and we count ourselves "lucky" if he or she is "only" running 25 minutes late. Once we do finally see the doctor? The visit goes by in a flash. In fact, the average visit with a doctor nowadays lasts only 13 minutes, according to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

All that waiting for a 13-minute visit doesn't seem worth it, particularly when you're certain, for example, that you have a sinus infection and simply need a prescription for antibiotics, or a refill on that eczema cream. Sometimes you might think, "It's too bad I can't just video Skype with the doctor."

Soon, you might be able to do just that.

Telemedicine, or long-distance healthcare services over telecommunications media, is gaining ground. Already, many of your records are maintained in digital format and can be shared with other healthcare interests. Test results are delivered online, and some patients even wear Internet-enabled health monitoring appliances that track and report on vital signs.�

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