Is telemedicine attractive to hypochondriacs?

An article in MIT Technology Review takes a sideways look at telemedicine and asks if telemedicine is providing an easy route for people suffering from excessive anxiety about their health. The author, Christina Farr, suggests that the ease of contacting a doctor using telemedicine services in comparison to having to visit a doctor’s office and the ability use either insurance or direct payments makes these services more attractive to hypochondriacs (lately called those with somatic symptom disorder).
Views on the subject are quoted from the chief medical affairs officer at MDLive, Deborah Mulligan, and a board member of Doctor on Demand, Bob Kocher. While the first is able to relate an anecdote where a case of excessive anxiety disorder was identified and successfully referred to cognitive behavioral therapy, the latter says he isn’t aware of any patients with health anxiety regularly using the Doctor on Demand app.

Read the full article here.

Telemedicine getting out of the waiting room–perhaps

Will reimbursement by insurance payers and private employers (presumably self-insured) and a greater comfort level with the video consult mean that telemedicine will finally step out of the waiting room? This Economist article (free registration may be required) with high points from a recent Rome conference seems to not be able to make up its mind, though it tries to be positive. Taking a comparative view, Israel leads with ‘relatively lax guidelines’, with doctors able to e-prescribe and perform referrals to specialists online. China’s health-care reform focuses on telemedicine“, but Peteris Zilgalvis, a health official at the European Commission pointedly states “If you have a chaotic system and add technology, you get a chaotic system with technology” (Editor’s emphasis). The US is somewhere in between (more…)