Docs mull impact of telemedicine on patient interactions

As the role of telemedicine expands, doctors are considering what implications it will have on their interactions with patients.

In many cases, the traditional physician-patient relationship still reigns. Reid Blackwelder, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, in an interview with Medscape Medical News, said his facility only allows electronic visits if the patient has previously received care from a physician practice.

He said only a patient's personal physician should attempt to treat them online.

However, Joseph Scherger, vice president for primary care and academic affairs at Eisenhower Medical Center in California, told Medscape that a lot of healthcare needs can be met without an in-person visit--as long as a physician has the patient's medical history.

Scherger said a physician should not prescribe narcotics or mental health drugs, but it would be possible for other medications to be prescribed--such as ones for diabetes and hypertension. He added that telemedicine is becoming a necessity in primary care, especially as technological innovation introduces new ways to deliver that care.

The technology has already been shown to improve patient care.

For instance, people suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain were twice as likely to report an improvement in their pain level when they received care management through telecare, according a Journal of the American Medical Association study.

In addition, telemedicine helped patients with uncontrolled hypertension improve their blood pressure readings, according to a report in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making.

To learn more:
- read the Medscape article