Video Exams in Medicine: The Latest Medical Corner-Cutting

Another relatively new aspect of our sickly medical establishment here–video “exams”. Kaiser Permanente (in some ways not bad as these big American medical organizations go) has been pushing patients into five-minute follow up “exams” that are done purely through video on your phone or computer. The doctor presumably asks a few questions and confirms you’re still breathing because he can see you talking to him, and that’s the exam. Do they bill the patient a co pay for this? “Not this year” I was told. The person I asked implied they planned to start doing that. You could have to pay a co-pay for a “video exam”.

By the way, suppose you have something that may be hemorrhoids or a tumor, do you drop trou and spread cheeks to the video cam for the doc’s opinion? Will gynecologists look for yeast infection this way? Will you put a string on your phone and lower it down your gullet for a throat exam?

*Why not simply speak on the phone*? You can’t make a determination about anything except maybe a broken arm where the bone is sticking out, on a webcam. The problem is they’ll call it an exam but it isn’t really one. It’s just a way to save them money and still bill. Video exams could be useful for special situations–a friend just told me about one–but as a general all-around replacement for follow up in person exams, I think they’re just a device the company uses to cut corners.

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