Our healthcare system showed signs of dementia last week when BlueCross BlueShield launched the LiveHealth Online App — when you can’t get an appointment with your local doctor.
Just download the app from the iTunes App or Google Play store and get a live video chat with a tiny flat screen doctor from Walla Walla, Washington or other places you usually don’t go.
Yes, you can have an intimate doctor-patient chat with an avatar in a white coat for virtually the same cost (or lower) of visiting your doctor on earth. Because healthcare isn’t impersonal enough.
On Wednesday, I answered the phone and spoke to a Stepford robo-caller from Blue Cross Blue Shield. She was more animated than the usual telemarketing robot, and chatty, too.
In fact, she wouldn’t shut up. “Blah, blah, blah. LiveHealth Online is a new covered benefit of Empire BlueCross BlueShield…No waiting. No people coughing at you…like in the waiting room of a real doctor’s office.”
I hate getting sprayed in the face with a gaggle of germs.
More blah, blah, blah and robo-call gal said, “…. And the first 500 people that sign up get a free Amazon Gift Card.”
Sign me up Scotty or is that beam me up?
I suppose a Smartphone doctor would be less creepy than the doctor my medical group schedules you with when the other doctors aren’t available. During my last physical with him, when he asked if I needed him to do a breast exam, I said, “If you want to.”
At that moment, I would have preferred to see his face smushed against a screen.
I don’t think teledoctoring is a state-of-the-art service. It’s more of a state-of-a-broken healthcare system, an insurers creative attempt to cut back services in a shiny new way.
I mean really. What can be accomplished with a virtual face-to-face appointment without a stethoscope? How do you give a urine sample?
What if your appointment is for an ear problem and the connection drops? Your “I can’t hear you, Doctor” may be misinterpreted as an ear blockage. Then you’ll have to fly out to Walla Walla, Washington for the doctor to shove a light in your ear.
It’s hard to get a good shot of an ear with an iPhone. Getting a flattering selfie is challenging enough.
And how does a Smartphone doctor get a throat culture for Strep? Do you lick the screen?
As BlueCross touts ”…the telehealth service is…a two-way, face-to-face video chat with a doctor who can both diagnose and treat them, along with their family members for non-emergency conditions such as the flu, cold, strep throat and ear infections.” – HealthTechZone
You know how I feel about ear problems.
Frankly, I think BlueCross BlueShield should have their head examined. Just hold the phone over your head and snap a picture. My telediagnosis — shit for brains.
What do you think about the new telehealth service?
When you get a moment, please check out my latest piece at HuffPost/50, “How to Say Goodbye to Summer.”