“The hidden economics of telemedicine”

I am fortunate to have medical practitioners as friends willing to provide some care (advice, really) by phone (when appropriate). I like it not because it explicitly saves anyone money. I like it because it saves me tons of time. If it’s good enough for me, why not others?

From an editorial by David Asch (Annals of Internal Medicine, 17 November 2015):

If there is something fundamentally different about telemedicine, it is that many of the costs it increases or decreases have been off the books. We almost never internalize the costs patients face when they travel to appointments and wait. We sometimes recognize the costs of building waiting rooms and the time it takes for clinicians to get through a single patient encounter. We feel most palpably the charges that are recorded in insurance claims. We are often blind to the costs that result from needed care that was too hard to access. […]

The innovation that telemedicine promises is not just doing the same thing remotely that used to be done face to face but awakening us to the many things that we thought required face-to-face contact but actually do not.


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