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The doctor will see you now — on your smartphone
Could telemedicine change the way we manage our health?
(Aliya Ram, Financial Times, March 22, 2018)
Remember the last time you went for a medical check-up? The chances are you waited a week for an appointment, had a long wait to see the doctor, and nervously wondered which of the people around you in the waiting room were the most infectious.
As governments cut public spending in the aftermath of the financial crisis, health services across Europe and the US have come under enormous pressure to cope with the basic medical needs of ageing populations.
Waiting times have increased, satisfaction has fallen and the quality of healthcare has come under strain. Even simple things, such as updating a prescription or requesting a routine appointment, have added to the burden for overworked doctors and nurses.
This is despite the fact that basic technologies, such as videoconferencing and online chat, have simplified communication in most other parts of life and business. “We are really, really strained and we need to look at ways to do things more efficiently,” says Dawn Harper, a doctor with the UK’s National Health Service.
Dr Harper increasingly offers email and telephone consultations to reduce the workload generated by patients with routine requests. But she says video consultations and other technology could help cover even more ground.
“What you get from is much more than from email or the telephone,” she says. “If we could take away lots of the problems that could be dealt with online, that would free up NHS time and keep doctors working.”
- i.The extract quotes Dr Dawn Harper saying “If we could take away lots of the problems that could be dealt with online, that would free up NHS time and keep doctors working.”From your study of Block 3 Part 6, describe some of the services available online via NHS websites and how they free up NHS time. You should discuss both central services and those for local GP surgeries. Suggest two disadvantages of asking patients to deal with problems online.The maximum word limit for Question 3(b) (i) is 200 words.(7 marks)
- ii.Dr Harper also mentions video consultations as having potential value, saying “What you get from video consultations is much more than from email or the telephone”. In Block 3 Part 5, you learned that telepresence technology can be used for video consultations. State which technical characteristics of telepresence you think would be particularly important for a medical consultation and explain some of the reasons that you would get much more from video than from email or telephone.(8 marks)The maximum word limit for Question 3(b) (ii) is 250 words.
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