Man Having Video Chat With Doctor

According to an article in Computerworld, almost one out of six doctor visits will be virtual instead of in person. Instead of visiting the doctor’s office, patients will consult by phone or video chat. And this is not some futuristic forecast; the prediction is for this year.

The trend is driven by the soaring cost of health care. Visits to primary care physicians costs more than $175 billion worldwide, according to Deloitte.  Electronic visits could save as much as $5 billion worldwide this year, and the number of visits is expected to grow.

Clearly, this movement is facilitated by the penetration of high-speed broadband Internet connections and video-chat technologies. These visits can also save patients a lot of time and frustration, and often results in a much faster turnaround for receiving information than with in-person visits to a doctor’s office or hospital.

One problem with these visits, however, is the limited ability for a physician to examine a patient and gather data such as vital signs and other diagnostic information. The development of wearable Health Tech devices will help accelerate this shift to telemedicine, however, as doctors are able to get reliable and accurate data from the patient’s health and fitness devices. The use of such wearable devices paired with digital communications could rapidly lead to faster access to diagnosis and treatment while saving significant costs for the patient, the doctor, and the health insurance company.