House Calls…With A Phone Call It’s said that everything old is new again, and health care is certainly exploring the truth of that statement. In the early days of health care, doctors personally went from place to place, seeing patients in their homes. Of course, populations grew and the logistics of constantly traveling to the patients became impractical. Doctors set up their practices and brought the patients in, rather than the other way around. The efficiency of this approach is obvious. If the patient requires 15 minutes of contact with the doctor, it was wasteful of the practitioner’s time to travel an hour to the residence and an hour to the next one. The doctor spent an hour and fifteen minutes to get from the end of one visit to the end of the next–a span which would accommodate five patients at the same pace in an office. In time, though, practices have begun to explore other avenues for cutting wasted time and not a moment too soon. The advent of the Affordable Care Act has made access to physicians for more and more patients, and the doctors who need to see them are stretched ever thinner. An alternative model can be seen in PlushCare’s Irvine urgent care, a telephone consultation system through which patients can access a doctor by telephone. Is it a needless acceleration that could prove problematic? Not when it’s properly done. Skilled practitioners will be able to interview patients adequately to determine whether in-person care is needed, and if not, they will be able to get the patient a prescription and get everyone on their way. Let’s examine some of the benefits of this technique and how they’ll drive this trend forward. It Fits Our Lifestyle Even a minor illness is a disruption to our lifestyle. We lose work time, waste gas, and get stressed out over something that we already know how to resolve. Is it really necessary to go through so much for another prescription of the same antibiotic you’ve always used? With mobile phones and the power to do anything online, we are accustomed to efficient service these days, and our health care is no exception. If we can track our bank transactions right down to the second, we should be able to contact our doctor and view our medical records just as efficiently. A streamlined medical experience leads us to seek care more quickly, before we’re miserably sick and losing even more work time. Reduced Contagion It’s a sad irony that we treat sick people by placing them in a room with a bunch of other sick people for an hour or so. They all cough, sneeze, and touch the same items. Even the ubiquitous white coat of the doctor and its dangling friend the stethoscope are suspected vectors of pathogens. No wonder viruses spread. Getting health care at home with no physical contact with anyone else is a brilliant solution. Why should I sit among flu and strep patients when all I have is a rash from a brush with poison ivy? It makes perfect sense to keep people away from each other when some of them are sick, and telephone consultations do just that. Decreased Overhead If you’ve spent much time in a doctor’s waiting room, you know there are always a few people who constantly walk to the window and ask the staff how much longer it will be, why this person went first, and if they can just get a prescription without waiting. Every time the office staff has to interrupt the complexity of handling paperwork, there is time lost, efficiency spoiled, and an increased chance of errors. With care by telephone, the patient doesn’t have to worry about who’s getting called first, what the office fax number is, or whether there is anything else on TV. The call is made when the patient can do it, and it’s that simple. While it may be hard to get used to a doctor’s visit that doesn’t involve saying “ahh”, the trend is clear. The growing load and slowing speed of medical care will make telephone consultations more and more popular–and more and more necessary.