Last Friday, I had my regular checkup with my Primary Care Physician in Gilford via Zoom. In addition to being able to see and talk to each other, my PCP was able to bring up & review my electronic records, she was able to send in a new prescription for me by email to the pharmacy, and she sent me an email reminder for my next appointment in August, all while we were together on Zoom.
Sound like the new normal. Sounds like something radically new and innovative, right? Well, maybe.
About 30 years ago while I was practicing law in Miami, I had a friend and client who was the head of radiology at a mid-sized hospital in a Miami suburb. When I visited his new home and his hone office, I noticed in his office what appeared to be some type of CRT monitor. This was long before the Internet and PC’s in every home. Also long before flat panel monitors became standard.
He explained that this was his monitor for what he called “telemedicine.”
He said that he had a direct electronic link to the radiology department at his hospital and that personnel in that radiology department had the ability to send him, electronically, CAT scans and ordinary X rays taken of patients without delay. (I assume today this would also work for MRI scans as well.)
As an example, he told me of a recent incident that had occurred.
While he was out of the hospital and at home, a person came into the ER in severe distress. A CAT scan of the patient’s chest was taken and sent to my friend via the telemedicine link. He immediately saw that the patient had what appeared to be a dissecting aortic aneurism that would kill the patient if surgery was not undertaken immediately. So, he called in and ordered immediate surgery and the patient survived.
After that educational experience, every time I was called upon to draft or negotiate an employment contract for a physician, I insisted on including within the agreement a provision that the practice he or she was joining was required to provide telemedicine facilities for my clients in addition to the other usual things they would provide, like malpractice insurance.
This was about 30 years ago in the Hialeah suburb of Miami, not exactly known for being a hotspot on the cutting edge of technology.
So, now we are being somewhat forced to rely on telemedicine these days because of the pandemic. But we also now have robotic-assisted surgery done remotely by the da Vinci surgical system and others even before the pandemic.
Often a brave new world, when closely examined, simply looks like improvements built upon older technology and thinking. The old is new again.
I am not making up this story.