As telemedicine grows, so do concerns about quality of care

May 9, 2014 | Reply More

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“Can downloading an app, and describing your symptoms to a doctor you’ll never meet, take the place of an office visit? Can sending a ‘selfie’ of your sore throat help diagnose strep?” As telemedicine continues to grow rapidly, proponents and critics argue its merits and downfalls as well as the best tactics to enable widespread care without sacrificing patient safety.

Three telemedicine companies, Teladoc Inc., MDLIVE Inc., and American Well, hosted between 400,000 and 500,000 virtual doctor visits in 2013, more than double the number in 2011. Many health plans hope that these new services will reduce costs and empower their members—last year, 11% of large employers had telemedicine services available to their employees and 28% were considering it, according to Mercer consulting firm.

However, critics are concerned with the accuracy of telemedicine visits, especially when doctors prescribe medications for patients without running lab tests or conducting physical exams. Center for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist Lauri Hicks explains “there is a lot of concern making a diagnosis without examining a patient—not only for overprescribing, but also for underprescribing or misdiagnosing cases where there might be a more serious infection.”

To learn more about connected health and the rise of telemedicine from industry experts, attend this year’s Convergence Summit, May 15-16, in San Diego, California. Click here for more details: http://bit.ly/LUlhs6

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579536284129494564?mg=reno64-wsj

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