Eric Topol MD: Hospitals & Office Visits will be “of Little Use in the Future”

Eric Topol office visits of little use in the future


Some fascinating opinions are shared in this Medscape video featuring Eric Topol MD, Cardiologist and author of the Creative Destruction of Medicine.

I think this highlights how important it is to challenge accepted wisdom because whilst the home may be “a lot more comfortable” it’s not always going to be “a lot less expensive”.

Whilst I don’t personally share Eric’s opinion that office and hospital visits will be of little use in the future (because I think they will be used far more appropriately by patients who we know need to be using them), his appreciation of the failings of the conventional undocumented rushed revolving door style of office consultation that neither patient or Doctor are prepared for are spot on:

Let’s also look at the physician office visit. The average office visit in the United States is somewhere between 7 and 12 minutes, and the average waiting time is about an hour. This is a very inefficient system. Of course, a lot of patients complain that in those 7-12 minutes, the doctor is just pecking away at the keyboard; he doesn’t even look at them. So, it’s a very unsatisfying, unfulfilling type of experience. What if you have — and this has already been piloted by some programs throughout the country — a digital connection with a secure video chat where you are actually having eye contact with the physician throughout the visit, and the visit could even be longer because it’s a much more efficient use of both the patient’s time and the doctor’s time? Yes, you could still have a face-to-face physical visit as need be, but a lot of these visits could be virtual visits in the future.”

NOTE: In the video Dr Topol states “what if you have, and this has already been piloted by some programs throughout the country, a digital connection with a secure video chat where you are actually having eye contact with the physician throughout the visit and the visit could even be longer because it’s a much more efficient use of both the Patients time and the Doctors time“. I think it’s a good idea to make it clear that this isn’t actually something that’s at the concept or pilot stage anymore. For patients in the UK and Ireland our service 3G Doctor has been providing exactly this 24×7 since 2006.

Don Jones VP Qualcomm Consulting with 3G Doctor's Dr F Kavanagh MRCGP

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2 Responses to Eric Topol MD: Hospitals & Office Visits will be “of Little Use in the Future”

  1. Thane says:

    A good medic might immediately notice conditions/signs with personal contact not apparent with a small, handheld facial photo. This might be efficient for the UK’s socialized medicine where thousands are dying neglectfully, but it is NOT good medicine.

  2. Hi Thane,

    A good medic might immediately notice conditions/signs with personal contact not apparent with a small, handheld facial photo

    This is one of the reasons why at 3G Doctor we supplement our mobile video consultations with clinically validated Patient History Taking tools.

    As you can see in this Mayo Clinic Proceedings published paper it is possible using the tools of our time for a good medic to notice conditions/signs BEFORE they even meet with their Patient.

    In my opinion the preventative opportunity is largely lost because care is so difficult, expensive and inconvenient to access. In our experience mobile video consults are a step change but perhaps they are something you need to experience first hand before this becomes obvious?

    In response to your suggestion that “This might be efficient for the UK’s socialized medicine where thousands are dying neglectfully, but it is NOT good medicine“:

    1) I have no idea about the neglect you are aware of and would encourage you to report it.

    2) The fully documented Video Consultations we provide to Patients are paid for out of pocket by Patients or their Private sector employers so are in no way any part of a “socialized medicine” system.

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