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Talk With An Online Doctor – Crazy Idea or the Future of Healthcare?

Telehealth conversation with nurse.

Technology and the Internet – Finding The Things You Need

It seems that, in the modern world, we should have more tools and information we need to actively engage and interact with…well with everything. New tools are coming out every year to help us find a date…online, order a pizza…online, find the best deal…online, find a ride…online, well why not talk with a doctor online? Talk with an online doctor? Sounds crazy right? Well, it is and it isn’t, that part is a little tricky.

Telehealth doctor

Smartphones and computers are powerful tools. Harnessing that power through telemedicine can transform healthcare.

Talking with a doctor isn’t as nonchalant and care free as finding a taxi, or the cheapest local grilled cheese. The medical field isn’t like deciding between a Thai Restaurant that costs $$ instead of $$$ but is only rated 3 stars. No healthcare services are serious stuff which require licenses and certifications, and intense decision-making. Is that really true? Of course, we realize we cannot rely solely on the internet for our healthcare needs. An important part of medical care is the personal history and relationship and in most cases a doctor should be looking at you in person, but does that mean we should discount that talking online with a doctor can have enormous convenience and use for people?

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Healthcare and the Internet – Finding the Services You Need

Talk with an online doctor

Staying connected with doctors on your phone is an important next step.

Talking with a doctor online can have enormous potential to not only save money by reducing emergency department and primary care visits, but can also improve quality of care by conveniently providing patients with continuous care whenever they may need it. Who wouldn’t take the option to live chat with a doctor if it was available to them and affordable? Heck, you can even do it in the waiting room of your regular doctor’s office.

Now expand that from talking with a doctor online, to any other healthcare service you can think of. Wouldn’t a lot of them benefit from the ability to communicate with and find professionals online? What about live chatting with a pharmacist or a nurse? The benefits of such tools are plain to see.

Euroclinic product checkout.

Ordering a medication at EuroClinix, an internet pharmacy that offers remote online doctor consultations and prescriptions which are delivered directly to you the next day. (Based in Europe)

Finding the healthcare services you need online is getting easier and better. Now, while still in the early phases of innovation, it is possible to talk with a doctor online, call a nurse, and order next day home delivery of prescriptions.

Cost and Transparency

One of the major benefits of talking with online doctors’ and other medical providers is the affordability. While a tool like this probably wouldn’t be free (doctors’ and nurses did have to read a lot of textbooks for us) it can conceivably be very affordable. Not only can it be affordable, it will actually have the pricing available and transparent before you partake in the healthcare service.

Online doctors and pharmacies will usually allow you to transparently view all their prices and compare products beforehand, unlike doctor’s offices. Click the link to see an example of cholestoral medication comparison.

Since it is an online consultation and requires no office or equipment, all you are paying for is the doctors’ time. You will likely either be told how much each minute of chat costs (or a block of 30 minutes to discuss your issues and questions), or pay a subscription to have constant access to this tool. You don’t want to be stingy when it comes to your health but if it is affordable and transparent, even if its just to get some more information and a professional to discuss with, wouldn’t it be worth a try?

Will it Actually Benefit Your Health?

So talking with an online doctor can be a convenient and affordable alternative or supplement to existing healthcare services. It is something we could all use at some point in time, and probably see ourselves using if such a tool is readily available at an affordable price. The question is though, will this actually benefit our health and improve not just the outcomes of health services but our health, wellness, and life?

Healthcare Information Technology Infographic

Hospitals are becoming more connected to internet technology, access to medical records online is growing, and wearable devices can help monitor conditions remotely. These innovations in healthcare will drive up the value of talking to doctors online and other forms of telehealth.

Yes it most certainly can benefit your health physically and not just as psychological comfort of talking to a doctor. The big change that will really improve quality in healthcare is continuity of care. As these tools enter our society we will be more educated and informed, which is a large determinant in our health. As long as there are qualified professionals behind the keyboard talking to patients and following proper procedure, it can actively push us towards potential answers or something to build on for a second opinion.

A live chat with a doctor once might not do much for your overall health in many scenarios, but one conversation every month certainly will. An online communication platform running live chat with doctors’ would also greatly benefit from improved data sharing of medical records. As these technologies grow together and your online doctors’ can start to actively engage with your medical history, real quality based outcomes will definitely start to emerge from the internet of healthcare services.

The Bottom Line

The truth is, many of us already do rely on the internet as our first line of care with health issues, especially chronic illness. The first place people go is the internet to check about their back pain or their skin rash. You wouldn’t be replacing the doctors’ visit or the chat with your pharmacist, you would be improving on a service you already use – doing your due diligence about your health, on your own time without the hassle.

Telehealth conversation with nurse.

Patients can have quick constant access to health consultation from trained professionals.

A survey of healthcare organization executives in America done by Foley & Lardner found that 84% ranked onlinecommunication as very important to their organization going forward. Online communication with doctors’ is making basic healthcare accessible from poverty-stricken rural areas in India to the battlefields in Ukraine. Online communication in healthcare is growing and growing.

No, talking with healthcare professionals and doctors’ online isn’t THE ‘future of healthcare.’ It won’t be replacing the doctors’ office anytime soon, but it is A ‘future of healthcare.’ It is one of the many exciting possibilities that exist in shaking up how we receive care and improving the convenience of the experience.

Simon Greenberg

Simon is a health tech enthusiast who believes information technology can bring major improvements in healthcare cost and quality. He is currently working on ways to improve how we can connect and interact with our healthcare system. You can find him on and .

8 Comments

  1. I think that this is an excellent idea. It’s not the same as seeing your doctor face to face but for issues that aren’t emergencies, it’s very enlightening.
    I feel that speaking to your doctor online once a month or even more will help many people with at least minor issues.
    I think it can be affordable for many people.
    Do you think that facetime calls might be something in these online sessions?

    • Yes of course, telehealth could encompass any online or voice contact with a doctor, but one of the biggest aspects of it is ‘facetime’ like technology. This is currently being used only in rural areas and dermatology, but is quickly growing. The hope one day is to be able to ‘facetime’ with doctors on demand, but it is hard for that to be safe or useful without being connected online to your medical records or health data somehow (I will be discussing that in upcoming posts).

  2. I really like the idea of telehealth. I am not a Dr person – meaning I have to be practically dead or dying before my doctor sees me. However, there are times I have made a phone call to my previous doctor concerning symptoms and he typically didn’t need to see me. This saved both of us time and money.

    • Exactly, for both you and your doctor talking online can save time, money, and create an all around better experience. Hope to see technologies that make this easier in the upcoming years.

  3. My mother has been in the health care industry for almost 50 years and has seen a lot of changes. She has worked for the same doctor all these years.

    They have recently integrated this into there system and the patients love it. It will never replace the personal care you get from a physical visit but it makes visits to the doctor less frequent.

    Thanks for a great article!

    Jack

  4. Hey I think talking with a doctor over the phone or online is definitely a good way to eradicate an worries or concerns. I personally can never be bothered going to the doctor unless it’s really bad! So this would be very good for the health care system.

    • Thanks for the input. Yea one of the big reasons it will be so useful is we are often put off from going to the doctor due to the hassle so while talking with an online doctor won’t replace a physical doctors appointment, it will provide us a convenient way to stay engaged with our healthcare system.

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