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Saving Money by NOT GOING to the Doctor

I just read a very interesting and excellent article on how Telemedicine can reduce the costs of Healthcare (http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/5-ways-telemedicine-reducing-cost-healthcare ).

It is imperative that we, physicians and other providers, quickly start producing evidence to that intuitive affirmation.

I think that the full adoption of a telemedicine and m-Health culture by healthcare systems will never happen unless the administrators can see some “proof” on that matter (this always makes me think of the movie line “show me the money!”).

When I write administrators, I mean it. For every one else, at least for most providers, and likely for ALL patients, telemedicine is a “no-brainer“. After all, who doesn’t want to avoid a visit to the doctor’s office ?!

Recently, I performed a telemedicine follow-up visit for a pediatric trauma patient of mine. She had major trauma several weeks ago, and was discharged home safely after many days in the hospital. She lives about 3 hrs and 155 miles away. Unfortunately for them, a follow up CAT scan and a follow-up visit was needed in order to make sure she was safe to return to her usual level of activities (sports, school, or just being a teenager). I could tell that she or her parents were not looking forward to making that trip again, spending the money, the time and missing more time away from work and school.

I decided to set up a telemedicine visit instead. I offered them the option and, of course, they were thrilled!

With the valuable assistance of their local hospital staff (only a few minutes away from their home ), we arranged a time and a place to bring her in front of their telemedicine camera, check her in and wait for my call. That healthcare facility is part of our vast telemedicine network, which we use for acute trauma consultations.

On the date of the appointment, she showed up and was registered. The RN obtained her vital signs, brought her and mom into the room, and waited for me to show up … virtually!
Then I connected and “came” into the exam room.I could see and hear them, in real time, as good as being there. I greeted them, asked several history questions, shared with them exam results, and explained the findings, my recommendations and the rationale behind the plan. I could see that my young patient felt so comfortable, sitting in the stretcher, next to mom, video-chatting with me as if she was “Skype or FaceTime-ing! They both looked pleased and happy!
How could they not be? After all, I let her go back to do sports, running, dancing…or again, just being a kid. And also, not less important, we ended up SAVING:
– 351 miles, NOT travelled.
– $70 worth of gas, NOT wasted.
– 5 hrs and 30 minutes of travel time (not counting the office waiting room time!)
– 1 day of work, NOT lost (for mom)
-1 day of class, NOT missed (I don’t know if she was happy about that one!)

We could calculate the dollar cost savings of this interaction, but after briefly thinking about this, for them and for me, the conclusion is:


iPodTeletrauma http://t.co/dHWCz1HZ

  1. Hildy
    June 25, 2013 at 10:30 am

    How do you feel about not being able to touch and examine the patients?

    Do you think this would be better with a doctor at the far end able to give their impressions of the patient? (so tele-consultation as opposed to tele-medicine).


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