Why is telemedicine the main trend in healthcare today?

As regular readers know I’m a massive fan of the use of new and digital technologies in medicine

Over the last year or two one of the main drums I’ve been beating is the rise (irresistible) of telemedicine.

You may be interest in some of our previous coverage here and here.

So I was particularly delighted to find this infographic which introduces you to the concept of telemedicine in very straight forward terms.

What do you think of the concept of telemedicine? Please do share your view in the comments section below?

Please include attribution to www.inhousephysicians.com with this graphic.


Millions fear end of current healthcare says recent research. How technology might fill the gap.

Chris Millington of Doro
Chris Millington of Doro
Concerns about the NHS and its future are so great for almost 40% of the population that they fear it won’t even exist when they reach old age.

That’s according to new research released today which saw almost 60% say they are worried the NHS won’t be able to look after them when they get older, with 41% saying budget cuts have them fearing for the future of the health service.

More than 40% surveyed by Doro also say they worry about Britain’s ageing population will mean for health care in years to come.

More than one in five have even more immediate concerns about whether the NHS will even be able to care for their parents or elderly relatives.

And with one in seven worrying they won’t have the money to care for their parents or elderly relatives when the time comes and one in ten concerned they won’t have the time, the study raises questions over just who will look after our ageing population.

Almost a third also worry about how isolated their parents may become when they get older, while around 40% believe technology is contributing to isolation instead of helping them feel more connected and supported.

However, with more than half of respondents saying their elderly relatives now use at least one form of smart technology such as smart phones, social media, or tablets, could the growing number of apps, monitoring services and websites dedicated to health actually be a huge part of the solution to the growing crisis over care of the elderly?

We interview Chris Millington MD of Doro to find out more.

PATIENTTALK.ORG How has the NHS changed since Nye Bevan in terms of operations, objectives and outcomes?

MILLINGTON Well obviously Nye Bevan were given the task of creating a national health service or a

Doro - Telemedicine
Doro – Telemedicine
free to use health service so in the early days it was created from gathering together all of the elements that were out there in the private sector. It’s a very different organization now, in fact that’s the most important thing. It is an organization now, it wasn’t then. So it has an operation and it has a very difficult task of trying to provide the best outcomes possible for the nation as a whole and we spend 6% of our GDP and rising dramatically on the cost of providing some immense health care.

PATIENTTALK.ORG Is it not outmoded in the new era of both management style and medical technology?

MILLINGTON I think that it will always lag behind the amazing things that happen within technology and also treatments. You think of all the amazing things that have happened to treat things like cancer and the technology that leaps forwards, the NHS has got to provide the services that links those things together so it is always going to be a challenge. To say it is completely outmoded in this era I think is too challenging to the health service and it provides great support. It just needs to engage further with technology.

PATIENTTALK.ORG What are the main reasons for the failure of the NHS in your view?

MILLINGTON The NHS is always going to creak at the seams because of the demands that are placed upon it and the fact that we all know that we are going to have to pay for this health service, this ever increasing health service. To say it’s failed is probably a bit premature, it potentially could if it doesn’t change, if it doesn’t adapt to the future requirements and one of the things that we are looking at in our research is how people feel about these areas, so we know that people are concerned that potentially there might not be an NHS or that there might not be services when they retire and come to need them. And that’s simply because the aging population is expanding at a massive rate and as it does and it becomes 20%, well it is 20% of our population today but it will head towards 30% within 15 – 20 years and that’s a fairly serious number of users that will rely on the NHS to treat their everyday conditions.

PATIENTTALK.ORG So what should replace the NHS and how should it be funded?

MILLINGTON I would rather focus on how we help the NHS to perform better through the use of technology. I think that the politicians need to look at funding levels and things like that rather than an organisation or a person like myself, the most important thing is how we get more out of the current provision of health care in this country and technology can really change the dynamics of the business model that is there today. If 70% of our GP appointments of people over the age of 65 managing everyday conditions like diabetes, technology can remove the vast majority of those everyday appointments by gathering the information and reporting it automatically to GP’s to be able to act upon any changes rather than just simply turning up and delivering their results and doing yet another blood test and then going away having wasted another hour of their time and potentially an hour the GP’s time, so you can really target resources much better by making technology work to identify real issues and therefore free up the time and resource to help the GP’s to do a different job.

PATIENTTALK.ORG Is the strangle hold of GP’s over the NHS the main problem?

MILLINGTON So again I think my previous point is that you can free up the time of the GP’s. I think that if you ask the GP they’d feel like they were being strangled by the immense pressure they are put under to cope with the number of patients that they are seeing every single day. Again technology can play an immense role in freeing up their time to enable them to make better diagnosis and help people that are in need of that help rather than simply just take results and pass them on in a recording process, an administration process.

PATIENTTALK.ORG How exactly can telemedicine improve health care?

MILLINGTON We can talk about telemedicine or mobile health but effectively what you’re doing is using everyday technology so you can use a mobile phone or a tablet to gather information, to report statistics, to healthcare systems, so a computer can quite easily handle a lot of the data and provide the GP the information to better than act upon the changes and ultimately what you’re looking for are changes in people’s health and wellbeing and therefore you can intervene on whether they need to be admitted to a hospital or whether they need some care or some medication. If you wait until that point where there at a GP, it’s already too late, they’re already in need of that medication or healthcare so if you can reduce the number of visits by taking the readings and measurements through technology that makes a massive difference.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – With the end of the current NHS, how will healthcare improve in the UK?
MILLINGTON I don’t think the NHS is going to end, I think the NHS will adapt and evolve and as a nation we’re going to demand that it does that anyway. Technology needs to make a more relevant role within making sure the NHS is targeted at what we need as a nation and I think it will, it needs the energy and effort of politicians and the health care service themselves to want to do this, to recognise that there are more and more people over the age of 65 that need treatment and we have to find a way to resource those treatments and technology is the only way for us to save money and provide those resources and treatments in the future.

PATIENTTALK.ORG Where can people go for more information?

MILLINGTON If you want to know more about our products and services that we offer visit then you can visit dora.com or of course find us on the usual social media sites.

Telemedicine – does it actually work? Have your say at our discussion blog!

As many of you know I’m very interested in the whole area of using technology to improve the quality healthcare. We have covered many different varieties of social media over the last couple of years. You can see a few topics here.

Telemedicine Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Telemedicine Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the last few months the subject of telemedicine has reared its head. Whether ugly or not remains to be seen. Telemedicine being defined as “is the use of telecommunication and information technologies in order to provide clinical health care at a distance. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities” according to our friends at Wikipedia.

So I was very interested in a report from the UK government which has just come out. The report is entitled “Evaluation of the Telephone Support Psychological Wellbeing and Work Feasibility Pilot”. You can read a summary here. Though I have to say it is one of the worst written documents I have ever cast my eyes over. Which bureaucrats can’t write comprehensible English beats me.

Anyhow the evaluation of the ‘Telephone Support’ intervention which hopes to improve employment and health prospects for people with mental health conditions was on the main pretty positive and further trials are recommended.

So what do you think?

It would be great if you would consider using the comments sections below.

You might want to consider the following questions:-

a) Have you ever used Telemedicine? If so for what reason?
b) How effective was it?
c) Would you recommended it to others?
d) If you have not tried it would you consider doing so?
e) Is telemedicine privatization by the back door?
f) Overall what is your view of telemedicine?

Many thanks in advance

Online diagnosis – find out how telemedicine is taking the globe by storm!

  • Data from 61 million health internet searches, reveals the trend for self-
    Dr Dawn Harper
    Dr Dawn Harper

    diagnoses is on the rise

  • The top ten of most common health searches reveals back pain, diarrhoea and depression as our leading concerns

  • One in four people in the UK admit to self-diagnosing illnesses rather than make time for a doctor’s appointment.
  • UK Digital Health Report from PushDoctor.co.uk, reveals Internet UK’s first port of call when feeling unwell

One in four people in the UK admit to self-diagnosing illnesses rather than make time for a doctor’s appointment.

Research reveals that 22% of people have chosen to diagnose their symptoms on the web because they were unable to get a doctor’s appointment (11%) or because their GP wasn’t available quickly enough (10.8%). The report also reveals that the internet is now the first place people go for advice when starting to feel unwell, more so than their partner or a medical professional.  This is true for all age groups under 65 years old.

The report, published by PushDoctor.co.uk, suggests the UK is becoming a nation of impatient patients, who are not willing to change plans to accommodate appointments to see their GP.

When asked what they would not be prepared to cancel in order to fit in a doctor’s appointment for a health issue causing them ‘moderate concern’, 47% literally weren’t prepared to get out of bed, saying that they wouldn’t miss the opportunity of a lie in to see their doctor. An additional 50% wouldn’t cancel a gym session, 46% would keep arrangements to meet friends for lunch and 38% wouldn’t even be prepared to rearrange plans for a shopping trip.

Analysis of data from 61 million UK internet searches for 160 leading health issues, reveals the trend for self-diagnoses is on the rise, up 19% over the last 12 months (an average of an extra 848,000 searches each month).

The most common health searches reveal that back pain, diarrhea and depression are our leading concerns.

To find out more PatientTalk.org interviewed Dr Dawn Harper and Eren Ozagir to find out more.

PATIENTTALK.ORG – I’ve just got a few questions for you, so first question is what is the history of online self-diagnosis?

DR DAWN HARPER -As an NHS G.P I can tell you that actually the use of the internet is relatively recent in terms of health care but it has increased majorly, so I am at the point now where I can’t remember the last time I did a surgery when somebody didn’t come in having already consulted Dr Google and they usually come in and have printed a wodge of paper , they have often diagnosed something very rare but almost always quite serious and they are frightened or really terrified so I think we need to be very realistic about the fact that online diagnosis is here to stay with that said its relatively  speaking a good thing and I also can’t remember the last time I did a surgery without using the internet, we are very time pressured in the NHS and I’ve only got around 10-12 minutes to deal with your problem so quite often I would either direct people to specific websites that I know will give them reliable information or I print things off for patients there and then so that they know they have got other information / back up information to take home and I know that they know what the next step should be.

PATIENTTALK.ORG -With online self- diagnosis what type of technology does that use?

EREN OZAGIR – So Push Doctor uses really simple technology because it needs to appeal to the majority of people , people like you and me to use our old mobiles / tablets / phones depending on where we are and what we need and so the technology is actually a standard website but behind that is a complex secured digital consultation software but the video quality is really interesting as a technical piece  , unlike other technology that you may have used on something like skype or FaceTime well actually Push Doctor uses HIPAA Proved, which is the United States health human services approved secure technology which means that the video consultations that the patients and Doctors enjoy on Push Doctor are encrypted and secured and at the end burned and trashed so that there is no recordings of patients and clinicians. So it’s an innovate piece of kit and its same kit actually that google uses across the world for billions of video transactions across android devices so we know that it works on scale with 3G, 4G and on WIFI.

PATIENTTALK.ORG Back  to self-diagnosis what are the risks of miss-diagnosis?

DR DAWN HARPER -Interestedly when patients are using Dr Google about two thirds of them have actually got their diagnosis wrong when we are looking at something like push doctor because of the clarity of the video footage and I’ve been online and obviously checked them myself actually you get a very good picture , now for most doctors I remember having a lovely professor at medical school who said ‘ a good doctor is someone who knows what’s going on at the end of the conversation, before you have even touched them’ whereas actually a lot of patients thinks that a good doctor is one who orders a whole battery of tests , so most of the diagnosis is in the story so actually using this kind of technology for the majority of cases is actually the equivalent of being in the clinic with me, I can hear your story but I can also look at your body language, I can tell whether you are in pain and see how you hold yourself because a lot of those nonverbal ques helps us in making a diagnosis  and its exactly the same using something like push doctor as it would be if I saw you in surgery.

PATIENTTALK.ORG  Can  you give some practical examples of its use?

DR DAWN HARPER -Well Interestedly 80% of G.P’s consultations do not require me to actually touch you, to examine you so 80% of the consultations I do in surgery are just about us looking at each other, picking up those nonverbal ques and me talking to you and listening to you and so for all of those sorts of consultations this type of technology is absolutely perfect. So for people who have any kind of stress related problem, a lot of some of them more minor elements that we might see, common coughs or colds, something that we don’t need to examine your chest for example then that would be a perfectly appropriate thing for me to deal with on this kind of service, rashes you know it’s very easy for me to look at a rash and very rarely do I need to actually touch a rash and what’s lovely about this is that for the patient you have got this very assessable service that’s open till 10pm at night 7 days a week and you just simple go online, you can book your appointment to fit in with you and you will get a GMT registered doctor who will give you an opinion now, if you turn out to be somebody who perhaps does need an examination then that doctor can direct you and tell you who you need to see , when you need to see them, what sort of things you need to be saying and asking.

PATIENTTALK.ORG  Which conditions are most suitable?

DR DAWN HARPER -Any condition that doesn’t need me to physically examine you, can actually be treated with this kind of service and interestedly that is the majority so 80% of the people that I see in surgery I don’t actually need to get up on my couch and physically examine them and any of those people could be helped by this kind of service.

PATIENTTALK.ORG -Can you tell us a bit more about the report? You know with the stats saying that self-diagnosis is up by 20%?

EREN OZAGIR -The push doctor national health report looks at a whole range of symptoms and traffic online and its discovered that 1 in 4 of us have been self-diagnosing on the web rather than seeing a G.P and the majority of those are consulting on the web because they have been unable to get a doctor’s appointment at all or they have been unable to get one quickly enough in their opinion and that’s because more and more of us are used to getting what we want, faster and on demand and what’s been really interesting is that some of the other data that’s come out of the report about what patients are willing to put up with and that they are willing to put up with certain conditions for a longer period of time in order for their general day not to be disturbed  so 50% of people went even willing to ditch a gym session to get the medical advice they need and deserve and 47% of the people that we spoke to were unable to give up a lay in in bed when they needed to go to the doctors, I mean those numbers are quite scary actually so one of the things that’s great about push doctor is obviously we are able to bring the doctor to patients home and work environments and give them an opportunity to fit as they expect that important medical advice into their day to prevent conditions from getting worse. Some of the other things that we have discovered along the way is that slightly more women than men are searching for their symptoms online and when people start to feel unwell the majority will research online rather then ask a partner or friend and lastly what was concerning from the statistics was that more people who used to do absolutely nothing about the things that is concerning them rather then ask a friend or a relative for their opinion so they were afraid to share and sharing your medical concerns is a really important part of you realising you need help or getting help and whether that is with a partner or friend or indeed a G.P , one of our missions at Push Doctor is to make that sharing easier and more accessible even if it’s on a private basis on a one to one discussion online using our video service.

PATIENTTALK.ORG  Given  the findings in the report does this not suggest serious weakness within the UKS’s NHS?

DR DAWN HARPER -As an NHS practising G.P I have seen huge changes really in the last ten / twenty years  and I think it’s only been very recent actually that we are a truly a national health service, I think up until recent years it’s been a national health service when people only come to me when they are poorly, we have become much better at proactive medicine, were screening more people , we are bringing more people into the surgery and testing them, that’s  really good thing but it inevitably  increases the pressure on the NHS and I think there isn’t a person in this country that doesn’t appreciate that the NHS is under pressure, I constantly hear my patients saying they had to wait two weeks for an appointment to see me , the frustrations are on both sides on the fence believe me because I find it frustrating as well and I think a service like Push Doctor actually really does add an extra boat or arm if you like , it reduces the pressure on the  NHS, it’s convenient for the patient, it frees me up to be able to see the people that I really do need to see face to face but also the policy is unless a patient specifically requests it there is communication between your Push Doctor and your G.P so then we can pick up the pieces if we need to refer on or we need to follow something up we can do that so I see it as a really positive thing for the NHS and something that we should be embracing.

PATIENTTALK.ORG  Can  it be integrated into a conventional health care provision and if it can how?

EREN OZAGIR – Push Doctor is integrated already into conventional health care, we are already obliged to inform your regular doctor of your conditions or the things that we have discovered when you’re in consultant Push doctor, obviously if that’s not something you want to do then you can opt out of that and your records are maintained and kept very private but actually as a matter of course we would normally write to your regular doctor and let them know what we have discovered , what we have been exploring and what we recommend and what we agreed together between you and your doctor. Additionally Push doctor is NHS commissioned and we’ve provided an enhance tech to NHS G.P’s and NHS patients who are  consulting on a platform , so there’s 24,000 that are enjoying the service and it is making up a general part of what you said conventional health care, it’s an important thing to get right, the technology that we are integrating into the NHS is proving out to safe time both for patients and clinicians , its having a brilliant access score with patients who are really feeding back with 5 out of 5 starts for accessibility but that’s really important is that we ask every patient who uses our service in the NHS whether they found that the technology made it easier to see a clinician with the exception of one, 4 out of 5 people would say it’s very likely or extremely likely that they would use the service  , sorry in the majority of cases the feedback from patients is that they found it very easy to see a clinician on Push doctor and that actually enhanced their experience of visiting and using the NHS.