Telemedicine and Eye Care8:41 PM
Most of you have probably seen the Novant Health commercial promising a doctor's visit via the web from the ease of your desk chair (or lake house deck as the commercial depicts), but have you ever wondered what the real feasibility of telemedicine is? How likely is it that your medical condition can be accurately treated via a web chat? How can telemedicine be practically applied?
|If a patient's photograph looked like this in their retinal screening, it|
would prompt a call for a live office visit for the doctor to assess the
patient's diabetic retinopathy in person!
There is a large gap between photo-monitoring retinal conditions, and ridding the need for any in person office visits with your eye care provider, so I am not purporting that a photograph will replace all patient care. The retinal evaluation is just one small aspect of the comprehensive ocular exam, and you can't evaluate the entire retina without dilation and a live, in-office view of the retina by the doctor. But conditions like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy do result in the need for more frequent monitoring than just yearly examinations, and telemedicine may help reduce the burden on the healthcare industry by offering patients convenient times without double or even triple-booking doctors. I don't expect the type of clinical care that the commercials depict where a doctor seems to be on duty full-time with web access is the way of the future--the type of care that can be provided without direct evaluation is very limited. But the industry around us will continue to change, and telemedicine in eyecare may become more and more utilized as our population ages and more people are diagnosed with macular degeneration and diabetes. The health care industy is an exciting landscape, and it is fascinating to see how new technology can entirely change the face of our standard of care!