Online MDs: the future of healthcare?

Since we do everything else over the Web, it's not surprise that some doctors have turned to online appointments to consult patients with common and easily treatable diseases. In The Wall Street Journal, Benjamin Brewer, M.D. discusses the pros and cons of treating patients online. Brewer charges $30 for each phone consultation and online software compiles a comprehensive medical history for the patient. If the patient does end up coming into the office, the data is transferred to an EMR. Brewer finds that the system saves time and that many patients are more comfortable dealing with personal problems online rather than discussing them face-to-face.

Online treatment isn't for everyone though. Brewer notes that children in particular should be seen in an office and that being familiar with his patient's medical history is and important part of online treatment. Reimbursement is an issues since Medicare, Medicaid and many other health plans don't cover online appointments. Also, some doctors may also feel that the online model undermines the doctor-patient relationship, though Brewer dismisses that concern. But with the growing popularity of retail health clinics, Brewer notes that offering online services helps insure that he doesn't lose easily-treatable cases to the competition. 

- for more, read this Wall Street Journal article