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TELEHEALTH – COMING TO A PHONE NEAR YOU

By Mark Salamon, June 1, 2020

Telehealth technology has exploded in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and a new app promises to provide the most accurate virtual simulation to date of an actual doctor visit.

Downloading the app to your smartphone allows convenient scheduling on the spot whenever you are injured. Upon reporting your injury, the app automatically connects you to a Zoom face-to-face encounter with a live receptionist who verifies your insurance information and populates your screen with an electronic form where you can enter your entire past medical history starting with the circumstances of your conception. Upon finishing this form, your screen is populated with nine other patients “Hollywood-Squares” style in a group meeting format that provides an incredibly life-like simulation of strangers in a waiting room staring blankly at each other while waiting to be called back to the exam room.

Just as you are all about to nod off, your virtual waiting room friends disappear and a medical assistant jars you awake and leads you down a virtual hallway to a scale. To make the simulation eerily lifelike, the assistant instructs you to walk down your own hallway and stand on your own scale. After recording your weight you are instructed to find a medium-sized bath towel that you will use to drape yourself “toga-party” style to expose the injured area while simultaneously covering your private parts. You are then virtually led to the exam room (your bedroom), told to have a seat on the exam table (your bed), and given a few minutes of privacy to undress and change into the gown (your toga).

Some time in the future, the deepest sleep you have ever experienced is interrupted by a loud virtual knock on the door by the physician assistant, who asks you a bunch of questions and virtually examines your injury (watches you examine yourself). The assistant then leaves to report the findings to the doctor, who appears on your screen approximately seven hours later to inform you that your injury is far too complex to be treated over a video chat. 

Your screen is then suddenly populated with all of the people who helped you on your virtual visit, this time in more of a “Brady Bunch” style with you in the middle. You are informed that before scheduling your in-person appointment, you will undergo a quick cognitive assessment whereby you are asked to identify which person on the screen is the actual doctor. Upon failing this test, you are automatically scheduled for a real live appointment with a psychiatrist.

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