Diagnostics Future Tech Internet

Coming Soon

A technology to watch in the coming years is Telemedicine or if you prefer Teledentistry. That is the use of remote sensing and communications tools to provide medical and dental services from a distant location. We are already doing this in a limited fashion. For example, digital radiographs can easily be sent to a radiologist anywhere in the world for evaluation and diagnosis. We now take this for granted but it was not that long ago that radiographs were on film and the radiologist had have them in his/her hand in order to see and evaluate them.

In a recent survey 33% of physicians planned to adopt telemedicine in the next year.

Rapidly developing DIY diagnostics using smart phones and linked sensors like the Fitbit are growing more sophisticated every day. Physicians have used smart watch data to diagnose heart problems that may have saved patient’s lives. Patients can already take smart phone photos and send them to their dentist for diagnosis using an app called OralEye.

We are using telemedicine with sleep patients. The diagnosis of OSA needs to come from a physician. Rather than send the patient off to another office, waiting weeks for a result, or worse yet never seeing the patient again we set up an online video meeting (like Skype but more secure) in our office while the patient is there.

At this time the two biggest obstacles to telemedicine are not technological they are administrative.

State law requires dentists and physicians to be licensed in that state in order to provide professional services. Does that mean a radiologist in California reading an image from a patient in Tennessee is practicing without a license? Maybe.

Perversely our current system is not driven by what is best for the patient but by what the insurance will pay for. Third party payers are beginning to recognize and pay for telemedicine services but it is still very limited.

Never the less we are well on our way to telemedicine; the housecall of the future.

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