Like most people, Cristina isn’t a fan of dragging herself to the doctor’s office when she’s sick. And don’t even get her started about getting stuck in traffic or, worse, stuck in the waiting room when she’d be better off in bed.
Moreover, this Seattle-area working mother of two says, “Appointments have become increasingly rushed and impersonal.”
Is it possible that a solution to all of this is to not actually set foot in the doctor’s office at all? Carena, a Seattle-based medical provider, thinks so.
A generation ago, the “house call” was the standard way to see the doctor. While real house calls are no longer feasible for most doctors, Carena recently launched CareSimple to provide patients like Cristina with easy and affordable online house calls 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. CareSimple employs some 20 board-certified family and emergency medicine doctors and nurse practitioners that are trained to diagnose and deliver care via Skype video call.
Appointments can also be done over the phone, but CareSimple Medical Director, Dr. Ben Green says, “Skype video calling is ideal for our purposes as the doctor or nurse practitioner can really engage with the patient and many people are already familiar with the technology.”
From the comfort of her own home (or bed), Cristina can learn how to best treat health issues, get a prescription or find out if she needs to bite the bullet and see a doctor in person or even head to the ER.
The program is currently available for patients in both Washington State and California and is adopting widespread Skype usage in the coming weeks. Dr. Green explains, “It’s still important to have a primary care physician and, obviously, not all conditions can or should be treated this way, but we are able to give patients convenience and flexibility while saving them time and money.”
The average Skype video call appointment runs for 20 minutes, which is longer than the standard in-person visit. Dr. Green says, “For the doctor or nurse practitioner, there’s no rushing over to the next room and for the patient, there’s no waiting room time, parking or traffic.”
Dr. Green continues, “It’s clear that this is a great thing for patients, but it’s also good for medical providers. It can improve our job satisfaction – to work at a better pace and be able to really connect with patients.”
Many of the physicians work from home-based HIPAA-compliant offices which Dr. Green says, “puts the doctor into a more comfortable situation and, as the patient is at home too, can make the whole interaction more focused and positive.”
Cristina says, “While I don’t look forward to the next time I’m sick, I do look forward to being able to connect with the doctor from my own home on Skype. It strikes me as a lot more personal and less stressful.”