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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Is This America's Future? Britain May Slash MD Appts. Replace With Skype Calls

British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning to save £2.9billion ($4.7 billion dollars) by eliminating an unnecessary part of medicine, the live, in-person doctor's appointment.  According to the A new system of “virtual clinics” is being planned in which GPs connect with patients via iPads and Skype.  Something that may very well reflect the future of Obamacare as it it overwhelms our economy.

According to the UK Express
The reforms would save £2.9billion “almost immediately” and improve the lives of most patients, for example by avoiding the need to find child care during appointments, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said last week.

However, critics are concerned the initiative would create a two-tier NHS in which the less technologically able, particularly the elderly, would be left behind.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham called the plan “dangerous”, while Age UK said cutting the number of personal appointments would erode the vital trust between doctor and patient.
Ya Think?
The ideas, contained in a Health Department report called Digital First, include arming community nurses with iPads in rural areas and making more use of Skype video calling between GPs and patients. There will be more online assessments “augmented” with video calls.

Mobile phone “apps” will be used to access lab reports and health records and negative test results will be sent by text messages rather than delivered in person. Mr Hunt, who made a fortune by creating an internet company, believes that while mobile broadband technology is revolutionising most walks of life, there is a problem once ­people encounter the relatively antiquated systems of the NHS.

The Government is trying to fill a £20billion NHS funding gap and health chiefs want to reduce “needless” appointments that clog up staff time.
Under the proposed system patients will be encouraged to first speak to doctors on the phone and then try video links.
In a Westminster debate last week, Dr Poulter said 15 million people with long-term conditions accounted for 70 per cent of all in-patient beds. “Many such ­hospital stays could be avoided through better management, including the better use of mobile technologies, to prevent people from becoming so unwell in the first place that they need to be admitted to hospital.

“We need to harness and better utilise more modern types of technology such as telehealth and mobile technology to support people better in their own homes and to drive down the cost of care.

“About one-third of patients do not necessarily need a face-to-face GP appointment.” In a statement to the Sunday Express, he stated: “It is important to stress that patients who are unwell and need to see their GP will still always have quality face-to-face time with them.

“The Government also recognises that not everyone, particularly frail older people, will have easy access to the internet.”
While no one suggests that this is part of the present Obamacare bill, this however is a logical result of heath care controlled by government rather than the doctor/patient relationship.

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