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A few weeks ago, we gave doctors a prescription for telepresence to cure their own woes with the medical system. Perhaps they’re closer to having it filled as a study shows an increasing number of doctors embrace telepresence technology.

According to an article by Neil Versel of InformationWeek, New York-based Manhattan Research surveyed more than 2,000 doctors and found that seven percent of the responding practicing physicians use telepresence to connect with their patients. Though the percentage sounds small, Versel said it might “represent a significant breakthrough” considering the medical profession’s general resistance to electronic communication.

While the study found that physicians who still refrain from online contact with patients have concerns about confidentiality, liability, and reimbursement for services, Versel notes that telepresence can alleviate some of these fears. Communicating through video rather than email “reintroduces the face-to-face element” lost through e-mail and comes closer to an in-person exam, Manhattan Research’s Vice President of Research, Monique Levy, says in the article. According to the article, telepresence especially appeals to and benefits physicians in specialties like oncology and psychiatry where follow-up visits do not regularly require a physical exam.

Besides seeing patients, telepresence helps with other woes, like reaching specialists on time, conferring with colleagues, and continuing education. I know a number of people at Cisco will be smiling when we see that the healthcare arena has realized the advancement through telepresence that we knew it could.

It will be a great day when I can just call my doctor up on video.  What are your thoughts on the survey?

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