More doctors use video conferencing for house calls

Wednesday, January 5 2011

Video conferencing technology is allowing physicians to communicate with patients when distance or weather prohibit face-to-face interaction.

Online interactive video chats allow sick patients to keep their germs at home, allow doctors to check in quickly with patients, and extend the reach of practices through e-consultations with patients in other areas, reports My Health News Daily.

Dr. Gregory Smith of California, who specializes in treating chronic pain and prescription drug abuse, used to have to reschedule or cancel many appointments when severe weather separated him from his patients in the mountainous regions of the state. But now, Smith can use his computer to "see" his patients, saving him 350 to 500 appointments each year, says the publication.

Video conferences have also been helpful for those who do not speak English fluently. Federal law requires assistance for patients who speak limited English, according to the Los Angeles Times, and many medical interpreters are now using phone or video conferences to translate for patients remotely.

Video conferences allow speakers of nearly any language to be available at the drop of a hat all over the world, which is especially beneficial for patients who speak a less common foreign language.

The L.A. Times reports that language barriers between patients and medical professionals can result in poor, shortened or incorrect communication, poor decision-making and below-optimal outcomes.