[LINK] Online medical consultations
swilson at lockstep.com.au
Tue Aug 17 16:58:24 AEST 2010
Tom Worthington wrote:
> The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that if
> re-elected, the ALP government would provide $400M for online medical
I do hope that when designing rebates for online consultation they don't
get fixated on the 'glamorous' high-tech end of telemedicine. From what
I've heard and read so far, many have got the wrong end of the stick.
Perhaps we've all been watching too many episodes of Catalyst, with
surgeons operating remotely by robot?
In reality, some forms of online consultation are more prosaic, much
more practical, and are already with us. For many years, services like
Ozdocsonline have provided confidential direct messaging between
patients and their own GPs, for routine matters such as Q&A about
existing conditions, repeat prescriptions, receiving test results, and
chronic care planning. These services replace having to come into the
practice, or playing phone tag. They allow patients and doctors alike
to better manage their busy calendars, by shifting routine
'asynchronous' consultations onto the web. The intent is not to replace
face-to-face appointments for complex, urgent or new conditions.
[I declare a past interest: in 2004 Lockstep Consulting helped to manage
an ITOL-funded project to develop Ozdocsonline's care plan module.]
Privacy and security are well managed in Ozdocsonline through a
practice-centred enrolment process that has GPs invite only suitable
patients to try the system.
Ozdocsonline is a user pays system. A good number of patients (like
parents with young kids, and hectic professionals) find it cost
effective to shell out $25 or so to receive same-day advice from their
GP online, when the orthodox alternative is to take what can often be
several hours out of their schedule, on a date not always of their
choosing, to attend the clinic.
This form of teleconsultation saves time, eases congestion, helps keep
patients out of waiting rooms, and helps GPs help a few extra patients.
There is a very good case that this mode of "attending" your GP should
attract a Medicare rebate.
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