As a child growing up in Pakistan, which was a very different country from what it is today, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. My grandmother often shared her story of migrating from India to Pakistan. In 1947, traversing that distance was treacherous. She was heartbroken when she miscarried her baby during the passage.
When I was in pre-med, she told me of her great admiration for the noble physicians of that time. She explained how diligently the physicians had treated my grandfather when he became ill. Completely different from the way modern medicine is practiced, in my grandparents’ day, families paid a physician a monthly fee. The physician would make regular quarterly house calls to check on everyone in the family, children and adults, alike. If a member of the family became ill, he would visit as often as twice a week without an additional fee, providing comprehensive care.
Telemedicine will transform medical care from sick care to health care.
We all know how the healthcare system works today. A patient goes to visit her physician and pays a fee. Diagnostic tests bring additional charges, as do any medications prescribed. And, if the patient requires additional physician visits, each visit is charged separately, no matter how many visits are necessary during a particular illness. Telemedicine will take us back to the future in the glory days of “The House Call,” only virtualized.
Telemedicine Is the Future Version of a “House Call.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed telemedicine into the spotlight. The adoption curve and regulatory challenges that delayed telemedicine have been forced forward by a decade. Not only does it provide continuity of care in this time where contact-free care is necessary, it also has the potential to move medicine from sick care to health care. If there is a silver-lining to this national medical emergency, it is the realization of telehealth as a supplemental care option.
The use of telemedicine presents an opportunity to transform medicine, allowing physicians to return to those good days by effectively determining who needs more attention and who does not need follow-up assessments. Telemedicine presents a new, hopeful horizon for the practice of real, responsible, and caring health care.
“If anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind”