How will Doctor’s communicate on the Internet with their patients in the future?

In an article written by Noah Shachtman in 2001 he stated that – most doctors view the Internet as a waste of time.  His source was a report released by Forrester Research.  He said, “With fortunes being sunk into e-healthcare ventures, just how – and how quickly the medical profession goes online is a multi-billion dollar question. It is one with potentially tectonic public health implications.”

The Forrester report, “Why Doctors Hate the Net,” showed, at that time, fewer than 40 per cent of doctors using the Web as part of their practice.

In 2013, just 12 years later the situation is very different. In a truly 21st century article entitled  ‘The Doctor Will email you Now’ Keith Wagstaff writing in Time magazines ‘Techland’ section gives an example outlined by Dr Jay Parkinson of someone who wakes up one morning and thinks she might have a urinary tract infection. “First, she has to call and make an appointment,” says Parkinson. “Then she has to get in her car, drive to an surgery, talk to the receptionist and fill out paperwork. She then waits with about 10 sick people, sees the nurse, sees the doctor, sees the nurse again, sees the receptionist and then she has to go to the pharmacist. There are about 15 unnecessary people involved. The result is a lot of wasted time, both for those who are sick and for their employers, who have to deal with the lost productivity of a worker taking time off. Parkinson’s invention, ‘Sherpaa’ aims to make the whole process more cost- and time-efficient and works by a patient sending an email or making a call, the doctor takes out his or her iPhone and then fires off a prescription to the chemist.

He goes on to suggest that if you had a nasty cut you could take a photo of it, send it in, and a doctor would write back telling you whether it could be handled by the surgery or whether a visit to accident and emergency would be necessary. If the assessment of the photo indicated that surgery would be required then the doctor would be able to set up an appointment with the right specialist and tell you how to cope with looking after the injury in the mean time.

This may sound very futuristic but the idea – to cut costs by eliminating unnecessary doctor visits seems a good one, although one can imagine that many doctors might not be that happy to dole out medication or advice without actually seeing the patient.

This is one way in which doctors could communicate with their patients, and there are many others, and will be even more that we have yet to imagine, in the future.

At the age of 36 however, Dr Jay Parkinson has his mind firmly made up about how doctors will communicate with their patients in the future.  He is convinced that the idea behind his invention marks the beginning of a new era in medicine and says.

“For me, that’s the future of healthcare. When our generation is running things, that’s what healthcare is going to be.”

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