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The 21st century housecall
In some form or another, there have been alternatives to in-person doctor visits for decades. There were new technologies such as the telephone in the 1920s, satellite calls in the 1970s for remote communities, and connected kiosks as part of the Minitel network in 1991. All offered the potential for cost savings and mass adoption. But despite 20 years of predictions that eVisits were about to become common, adoption remained low, with fewer than 5 million eVisits as recently as 2010.
A common misperception is that an eVisit is just like an in-person doctor visit except conducted over videoconference. In reality, this type of eVisit represents only about a tenth of the market and offers little cost savings. The vast majority of eVisits are likely to be more functional in nature and focus on capturing patient information through forms, questionnaires and photos, rather than through direct interaction with a physician.
Global health care best practices aim to decrease costs by focusing on prevention and early intervention to decrease the burden of illness, and by continuing to integrate information technology. eVisits feature less travel time and cost and increased convenience and faster treatment for patients, so demand should be strong.