Up Close & Personal

August 1, 2012 by InTouch Health

Perhaps the biggest reason patients are wary of telemedicine is that they fear that doctors will lose their personal touch and become too “clinical” and detached. But when patients experience all that Remote Presence has to offer, they’re often pleasantly surprised.

Maybe pop culture is to blame. For decades, our movies and TV shows have depicted omniscient machines making humans marginal, if not irrelevant. So when patients see a robot glide into the room, they assume it’s the medical equivalent of the Watson computer on Jeopardy – the all-knowing machine who does the doctor’s job faster and better. But remote presence is all about enhancing human interaction, not calling attention to machines. It can bring a physician in San Diego up close and personal with a patient in Atlanta – something that would have seemed amazingly sci-fi 20 years ago.

And after every remote presence consultation, patients don’t thank the robot…they thank the doctor, even if he or she is a continent away. Here are some examples:

  • The parents of a newborn with a rare disease who wouldn’t have survived without early intervention from a remote presence specialist
  • The man who could have had lifelong complications if a remote presence physician hadn’t coached an ED staff on how to administer tPA
  • The stroke patient who was so moved by a life-saving intervention that he asked his remote specialist to be best man at his wedding
  • A woman who might not have survived until morning rounds if her bariatric surgeon hadn’t done a remote presence check-up

Telemedicine isn’t about creating mechanized marvels to replace doctors. It’s about using technology to ensure that long-distance physician/patient encounters remain as warmly human as the first time your doctor asked you to say “Aaah.”

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