Telemedicine Could Be The Next Groundbreaking Medical Treatment


If you’ve ever had to go to a doctor’s office for sickness like the flu, odds are the issue of spreading germs came to mind. Likewise, if you’re just there for a standard checkup, or have something that is not contagious, you probably thought about the possibility of catching something while there. Both are certainly legitimate concerns, so what if there was a way to minimize the risk of this happening?

A possible solution to this issue, especially this flu season, is telemedicine. It’s pretty much what you think it is: doctors and patients have their visits over a video chat instead of in the office itself. Jarrett Stepman, editor of The Daily Signal, recently experienced this kind of treatment firsthand.

I’d been suffering from an illness for a week and wasn’t getting better. Worse, I was set to take a long flight from the East Coast to the West Coast and was worried about being so sick on a plane.

The morning before my flight, I considered checking into an urgent care clinic because my condition was still bad. Of course, checking into a Washington, D.C., urgent care clinic during flu season likely meant that I would have to take time off work and wait for hours to see a doctor.

Obviously, he didn’t want to take all that time off and have to wait so long for an appointment. However, his wife recommended telemedicine as an option, which his insurance covered. The idea intrigued him, so he decided to give it a try.

So I signed up for the service, got an appointment, spoke to a doctor, got a prescription, and picked the medicine up from the drug store, all before getting on my afternoon flight. After being prescribed an antibiotic, my lingering illness disappeared in a few days.

In his case, all things worked out very well. He got an appointment quickly, was able to get what he needed, and did so without having to travel around or sit in a waiting room spreading his possibly contagious sickness. That’s a win for everyone right there.

This kind of medical treatment could become a way of the future, especially in rural areas, according to Robert Graboyes of the Mercatus Center.

[T]here are tremendous benefits to telemedicine, especially in rural states, where you tend to be more isolated. Or if you’re a single mother with three or four kids, it’s very difficult to find a way to get to the doctor’s office if one of the children is sick, and telemedicine offers more opportunities. Telemedicine can mean earlier and less expensive diagnosis.

Sounds like something we should all be on board with, right? Well, apparently not so much. Many states have regulatory rules in place that only allow a person to use doctors they have met with personally. So if you want to try a new doctor via telemedicine, but you have not met him or her before, in these states you’re out of luck and have to do things the old fashioned way.

Telemedicine is a step forward for patients and doctors. It saves time and money, and helps to prevent spread of disease by enabling patients to stay home in many cases. Rules that prohibit this are not going to help those who need it most. Isn't that something we can work to change?

The idea intrigues me. If I would be able to call into my doctor's office either from home or even anywhere, isn't that an incredibly convenient way of getting some basic medical care? It's never going to fully replace the standard doctor's office, but this kind of system could free up resources to be used in more critical circumstances; all while ensuring everyone gets the care they need. Isn't that an alluring idea?