Digital doctors offer new way to get medical care - KCTV5

Digital doctors offer new way to get medical care

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KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Digital doctors are a new way for you to get medical care without leaving your home.

It all starts with a web cam. People can log on to a site and visit with their doctor all from the comfort of their own home.

Telemedicine was initially created for doctors to consult with each other about complex medical cases. It quickly became an easy and cost-effective way to share ideas with doctors all over the world.

"We're able to learn from them as much as they're able to learn from us, so it's a very collaborative relationship," said Richard Korentager, MD, with the department of plastic burn wound surgery.

But now it's also being used to meet and treat patients.

"It's like they're having their own personal conference at a distance, being able to see each other and talk to each other," said Susan Mitchell, a nurse practitioner at the University of Kansas Medical Center's burn unit.

According to the American Telemedicine Association, there were more than 400,000 online doctor/patient visits or interactions in 2013. That's more than double what it was in 2011.

Mitchell shows an image of a burn on a patient's leg. Instead of going into the hospital, he texted in the picture. She said the technology is a major convenience for patients, especially those in rural areas.

"They don't have to travel that distance to come into a medical center like KU, with the traffic, the parking and gas," she said.

Becky Diefendorf is a busy mother of three boys who said this would come in handy, particularly during cold and flu season. It would also cut down on multiple trips to the doctor.

"If one of your kids has had it already and you pretty much know what you've got, it would be pretty helpful not to have to go in three times," she said. "I don't want to have to go into a waiting room where there are kids who have I don't know what, something that could make us really sick."

Some critics and parents like Diefendorf worry that the technology could lead to misdiagnoses. Generally, in most cases, the e-visits are used for non-emergency conditions like cold and flu as well as for follow-up visits where the patients already met in person with a doctor.

There are several companies using the technology including DoctoronDemand.com and Teladoc.com.

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