Wall Street Journal Examines Increased Use of Telemedicine To Help Reduce Costs
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday examined how telemedicine has begun to move "into the policy mainstream" as governments and technology companies are "investing heavily to tap its potential for sharply reducing health care costs for a growing elderly population." Telemedicine, a technology that first became available in the 1970s, allows physicians to read the electrocardiograms, blood pressure levels and X-rays of patients from remote locations. Worldwide, Netherlands-based Philips Electronics, France-based Alcatel and Italy-based Telecom Italia have launched telemedicine ventures.
In the U.S., the Department of Veterans Affairs has begun to use telemedicine in some VA health care facilities, and Blue Cross of California in January plans to expand the use of technology to reach 90,000 members of the California Public Employees' Retirement System who live in rural areas. The advantages of telemedicine "are commanding increased attention," but the technology also has "limitations," the Journal reports. According to the Journal, a "remote visit can deprive doctors of the subtle cues they often pick up when seeing a patient in person" (Crane, Wall Street Journal, 11/10).