Hospital visits are typically marked by the traditional magazine read in the waiting room and face-to-face chats with nurses, but more and more people are turning to their computer screens to find quality care.
In an interview with HuffPost Live on Wednesday, Amwell CEO Roy Schoenberg discussed how the tech industry is redefining traditional health care. With “telehealth” companies like Amwell, users can have their symptoms diagnosed by a primary care physician or specialist from the comfort of their homes.
"You can just use your phone and you will see a physician within 60 seconds, 24 hours a day," he said. "You can choose the one you want, connect with them, and in most cases your health insurance will pay for it too because it brings healthcare to your home."
But the telemedicine trend still facing some hurdles. Thus far, regulatory restrictions have proved to be a barrier for 49 million Medicare recipients to receive reimbursements for online health services, which are not covered under their plans.
Although the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2014 looks to remedy this policy issue, others have questioned the logistical effectiveness of this technology. Electronic malfunctions, due to weather, for example, could cause outages and affect the quality of the video chat and overall care. Other issues, like the inability for a doctor to physically touch a patient, may lead to an inadequate diagnosis. Aspects like non-verbal queues could also cause complications if they are not easily translated through the computer screen.
Schoenberg responded to the criticism, assuring that patients can still find a close relationship with their physician online.
"We have actually found that that level of intimacy can actually exceed what happens when you are [meeting a physician] in person," he said. "I don’t know why that is the case, but there is something about the focus that you have when you’re looking into each other and the world around you disappears."
Schoenberg also touted the possibilities the technology could bring among the disenfranchised, who have difficulties finding quality health care in their neighborhoods, both abroad and in the United States.
"Even here in New York City, you have health care deserts, where people don't have the health care that they need," he said. "So I think that getting people -- whether it's philanthropic based, whether it's overseas or whether it is in the United States -- the ability to project healthcare to where they are is going to dramatically change how we can help those people."
Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.
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