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Practicing Medicine By Video

Posted Dec 26 2009 3:10pm

A scary article in the December 21st New York Times discussed OptumHealth, UntedHealth Insurance group's new venture. They, of course, are saying that it is a way to care for more patients, but to me it is just a way for the company to increase their intake of millions of dollars. There is no possible way that a physician can practice good medicine without actually seeing and talking with a patient.

I remember a patient who was a teaching subject for my medical students.  He had been followed by an internist for some serious problems. When I looked at his back I found not only a bad curvature of the spine but also some suspicious skin lesions. When I told him about these, the man remarked that his doctor didn't look at his back but just addressed his other problems. So if a doctor, who actually sees a patient, misses some important findings, how will a physician connecting with a patient only with a computer possibly be able to provide adequate medical care? I suspect there will be some major malpractice suits and hope the physicians who are willing to try video medicine will have excellent malpractice insurance coverage.

Medical care in the U.S. has deteriorated so badly already that now I am afraid that it may get much worse if video conferencing is used. I don't think any patient should accept this kind of care. It is your life and you are in charge. Please don't ever let a computer stand between you and good medical care.

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