O2 Health has launched new telehealth (as in videoconferencing) service called Side by Side in the UK following successful trial in the Western Isles which demonstrated “improved clinician productivity, a 30% reduction in travel costs and fewer appointment cancellations.” It is secure software that enables clinicians to use their office computers to conduct remote patient-clinician consultations and incorporates video, audio and chat plus a digital white board for spontaneous diagrams and annotations. Press release. [It will be good if it encourages doctors to start drawing diagrams!]
How smart is that – the doctors can use their existing computers on their desk, but the patients have to go to a remote site rather than their own computers. I was recently offered a telehealth visit with my oncologist – the drive to the telehealth location was 50 km away and the oncologist 60 km (in the other direction). This “secure privacy” is a stupid waste of time, money and resources that most patients neither want nor need. Next they will say a patient and doctor cannot talk on a telephone, which is a lot easier to tap into than Skype!
Chris makes a valid point. However, in the case of rural settings which, I presume, includes the Western Isles, it is often unlikely that sufficient bandwidth would be available in patients’ homes to facilitate the functionality of Side-by-Side. This is not just a case of privacy and security but also one of last mile connectivity. Also, in many clinical settings the presence of a nurse or other health care provider may well be required by the (non)attending physician.