A client of mine was seen at a major specialty center some distance from home. The local specialist had been unable to make a diagnosis. He was very supportive of getting, a second opinion from a specialty center. My client was seen at the specialty center by one of the leading experts in the field. He was diagnosed, and given an aggressive treatment. Because the specialty center was far, treatment occurred locally.
My client continued to see the local specialist as required ,who communicated with the out of state specialty center doctor. There didn’t seem to be any problem. My client experienced a stabilization of symptoms.
After almost a year of treatment, the specialty center doctor wanted to see my client. The last trip was physically exhausting and expensive. The decision was not to go there but do a video/webcam (like Skype) conference with the local specialist and the specialty center team. Seemed like a great idea except for one problem.
The local specialist said no. He doesn’t do that. And no room for discussion.
Why the refusal? My first thought was, is it reimbursement related? I am not sure how payment would occur . I know insurance won’t pay for two doctors at an out patient visit. That would seem a reasonable objection.
My next thought was, perhaps the local doctor was not set up for this type of conference. However, I knew the office was set up. Several months earlier, my client had been part of a video conference with the local specialist and several network off site doctors. Are there administrative regulations that dictate this type of interaction out of the network? There might be.
It would be wonderful for my client to have had this video visit with the doctors he trusts and respects. The technology is there and available. The information exchange would be great. My client would get the needed healthcare. It is surprising to me that the resistance surfaced but I should have known. Understanding patient needs is not always high on the list of the healthcare system.
I know there are doctors who are utilizing this technology with good results. It seems to be a hard sell for many though. I am still surprised when I find offices not using electronic medical records.
How can this technology become a fixture in patient care? What are the concerns? How can healthcare become more accessible without having to travel so far to receive needed care?
The option is to find another doctor to be a part of the video visit. Hopefully we can. My client can’t travel the distance.