The dangers of telehealth

KEY TAKEAWAY: Physicians are concerned about telehealth for several reasons.  First, they should be seeing patients first hand to evaluate overall health and secondly, there is the challenge of being compensated for their time.

Carol thought she had a sinus headache that wouldn’t go away so she finally decided to go to her doctor.  While talking to her doctor, he noticed that she would sometime slur her words.  He immediately ordered an MRI which showed a possible serious condition in her head which required a short hospital stay, followed by a regimen of prescription blood thinners.  Would her condition be noticed via telehealth?

Physicians are not sold on virtual office visits or telehealth consultations, but in some ways they are responsible for its popularity among patients.  The “wait in the exam room” and treat the condition rather than the patient has led to patients who just want to get an Rx and treat problems rather than potentially addressing their underlying reasons.

Startups are raising millions of dollars for online health consultation platforms as well as telehealth apps, but there are dangers for both patients and HCP’s.  All it’s going to take is one person to use one of these remote programs, be misdiagnosed and subsequently file a lawsuit against their physician for this whole thing to blow up.

HCP’s fully know that too many patients don’t always talk about potential health issues for many reasons.  Some don’t want to think about the consequences of having nagging health issues while others are worried about increased health costs of treating these conditions.

Where is the AMA on these challenges?  They would rather talk about the impact of DTC ads because it threatens the “God like” status of some doctors.  How dare a patient ask about a diagnosis or suggested Rx!

Pharma needs to drive patients into their doctor and talk about the benefits of having a relationship with their HCP.  We cannot allow patients to self diagnose and think the answer is as simple as asking for an Rx.  Treat the whole patient, not just the condition.  If a doctor is going from room to room all day to treat patients and doesn’t have time to have a relationship with the patient then something is very wrong.