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A nuanced view of telemedicine

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 A telemedicine room.

Michael Fratkin, M.D., a palliative-care physician, looks at the developing role of telemedicine in American healthcare.

He writes, among his other observations:

“We need to restore the traditions of compassionate home-based care and the capable use of a few simple principles of medicine. And we also need to integrate telemedicine technologies as a way to strengthen the relationships we have with our patients.

Because I believe that if technology is used to better serve the doctor/patient relationship, and if technology is used to improve the patient’s experience of their care, only then we can successfully achieve the “Quadruple aim” of healthcare: improved outcomes, better quality care, lower costs, and sustainable well-being for healthcare professionals.”

“Telemedicine doesn’t replace face-to-face, compassionate communication between doctor and patient. But it can increase its value. The ‘house call’ is one of the oldest and most effective means of delivering care. If you boil it down to boring health economics terms, its value to cost ratio is really hard to beat.

“Telemedicine cannot—and I would argue it should not—ever replace the house call. But it can significantly add to the doctor/patient relationship, improve communication, and provide the ability of a multidisciplinary team to follow up with comprehensive, coordinated care between home visits.”




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