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Affordable Care Inspires Video Linking of Paramedics with Doctors

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Soon, doctors will be “joining” paramedics in the field by diagnosing patients at the scene — virtually.

The use of video streaming to broadcast doctors is being considered to provide better assessment of patients on the scene. The face-to-face video contact (think FaceTime) is scheduled to come to some areas of the United States in the near future.

Video streaming is an easy and inexpensive way to help doctors see injuries and conditions, and can save invaluable time when diagnosing a patient. So, why hasn’t the idea been explored more thoroughly before the Affordable Care Act?

Besides the potential benefits to patients, there is one other motivating factor behind the idea. Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals risk being fined for readmitting patients within 30 days of their last visit.

According to WBEZ, the Medicare program has been spending more than $17 billion a year on patients whose returned trips to the hospitals were quite possibly avoidable.

Due to this specific change, under the Affordable Care Act, there is a push for EMS and ambulance services – including air ambulance services – to treat patients not only faster, but smarter. There is also a much greater focus on preventative care, especially for women.

Video doctoring has potential to be a big help with diagnosing patients and ensuring that ambulance crews and doctors are on the same page.

“There are definite occasions where I thought it would be nice if I could just show the doctor. Every once in a while you get a doctor that either doesn’t understand or just doesn’t see what you’re seeing,” said a paramedic with an Indiana private ambulance service considering the idea.

Whether-or-not this new idea is primarily driven by simoleons, it would be a positive development for those who could potentially become patients (ie: everyone). The technology and its method of implementation certainly have more than a share of challenges to be worked out, and not everyone is sold on the concept to begin with.

Indeed, as some have noted, unlike the many times where a visual picture would assist in a diagnosis, there are also many instances where adding a visual to a voice call from a paramedic would not add a great deal of information.

Should we throw the baby out with the bathwater? Leave a comment with your opinion below.

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