A Day in the Life of a TeleDoc

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teledoc rmHaywood Hall pursues his passion for global health (in Mexico) while treating US patients on his phone (for US dollars)

Haywood Hall pursues his passion for global health (in Mexico) while treating US patients on his phone (for US dollars)


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EPM: So you’re officially a telemedicine doc now. Who do you work for?
Haywood Hall: There are a few different providers out there who do telemedicine. I work with MDLIVE, but there’s Healthtap and ECI and others. They seem to be cropping up everywhere. My work is a partnership between MDLIVE and ECI TeleHealth. It’s actually a bit of a complicated landscape, as these things tend to be.

Give us some big picture background. Why is telemedicine necessary or useful?
The issue nowadays is really that there’s very limited access to primary care docs. We’re obviously trying to place people more in primary care settings and the emergency department continues to be a buffer for everything. So what’s happening is that there’s more and more people showing up to the ERs. And so now, because large groups of people are on prepaid health plans, insurers are incentivized to keep people from overusing the facilities – urgent care or emergency departments in particular. So they’re given an option to talk to a physician. We used to have something like this called a nursing hotline. The big difference was that the old nursing hotlines were pretty consistent about punting patients to the ED. By having a physician involved, we’re actually able to resolve a fair number of problems over the phone. And that works to everyone’s benefit. They don’t have to hang out in the ER all day.


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What kinds of complaints are you resolving over the phone that were previously punted to the ED?
A sore throat or an earache or urinary tract infection symptoms. In the old system they’d be more inclined to shunt it away and say: “Well, you could wait until tomorrow and go see your doctor,” or something like that. But the problem is that there’s actually fewer and fewer places to go for this episodic care. And so having a doc who can say: “Well, this does sound like a UTI,” and resolve the problem to some extent is really valuable.

This article originally appeared in Issue #15 of Emergency Physicians International.
Read the entire article on EPI Journal.


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