David A. Asch, MD, MBA
This article was published online first at www.annals.org on 8 September 2015.
Disclosures: The author has disclosed no conflicts of interest. The form can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M15-1416.
Requests for Single Reprints: David A. Asch, MD, MBA, Center for Health Care Innovation, University of Pennsylvania, Blockley Hall 1317, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asch DA. The Hidden Economics of Telemedicine. Ann Intern Med. 2015;163:801-802. doi: 10.7326/M15-1416
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2015;163(10):801-802.
Published at www.annals.org on 8 September 2015
This issue contains an American College of Physicians (ACP) position paper on the use of telemedicine in primary care settings (1). Will we look back on this paper a few years from now and think of it as quaint—the way we might if we found an old ACP position paper discussing whether physicians should ever talk to their patients on the telephone? The idea behind telemedicine is that patients do not always have to be physically in front of physicians to receive care. The appeal is obvious: Travel costs are largely eliminated; care can reach areas without nearby clinicians; and, for services that can often be delivered asynchronously, such as dermatology, scheduling hassles are reduced. These efficiencies have been realized in most other settings where we accomplish all kinds of business without face-to-face encounters. For example, I have never actually met my accountant.
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