Does the United States Healthcare System Need an Overhaul?

Healthcare is undoubtedly one of the United States’ biggest challenges today. Having been declared “broken” by experts over ten years ago, the system has still not shown any improvements. Supposed “fixes” promised by managed care have not surfaced. Instead, health insurance premiums are rising, hassles for patients and physicians continue, and more than 45 million Americans are uninsured.

If the challenges with healthcare that the United States faces are not met swiftly and wisely, the current problems will worsen and new challenges will arise. Even considering that new technology, such as online medical consultations, will increase efficiency, the cost of new tests and treatments are projected to outweigh the savings. As physicians and online doctors get better at treating ailments and illnesses, they will in turn lengthen patients’ lives, thereby increasing the number of people requiring medical care.

Additionally, as costs rise, many employers will not be able to handle providing healthcare benefits to their employees. This is just one contributing factor to the growing number of uninsured citizens.

Is Healthcare Reform in Our Near Future?

President Obama has plans in motion to ensure each and every American has access to high quality health care, deeming it “one of the most important challenges of our time.” He stated that the number of uninsured Americans is growing, premiums are skyrocketing, and an increasing number of people are being denied coverage every day. In addition, President Obama believes that an improved healthcare system – including one that supports the use of telemedicine and online doctor consultations – is also essential to rebuilding the U.S. economy, in that an improved system will benefit people and businesses – not just insurance and pharmaceutical companies.

According to Darrell M. West, Vice President, Governance Studies at Brookings Institution, “the biggest obstacle to health care reform is fear of the unknown. Anytime you make fundamental changes in the system, there is going to be anxiety from doctors worried about reimbursement levels, patients concerned over access to care, insurers about market competition, and hospitals about cost structures. In this situation of complex proposals and unknowable consequences, it is easy to play to people’s fears and scare them into resisting change. What President Obama has to do is persuade people that diving into the unknown future is less risky than the current status quo. If he can overcome the fear hurdle, he will get health care reform.”

We Have Evolved…It’s Time for Healthcare to Evolve, Too

The way of approaching healthcare in the United States has become outdated. With the rapidly expanding array of technology that is available to the people of the United States, it is no wonder why the way research is done has changed; and the ways in which people communicate has also changed. So what about change in the healthcare system? It is due time for physicians and other healthcare providers to evolve with the times and incorporate telehealth services, such as online medical consultations and online prescriptions, into their practices.

Datamonitor has predicted that the global telehealth market is expected to exceed $8 billion by the year 2012. Telemedicine (often used synonymously with telehealth) is the use of medical information being exchanged from one to another via electronic communication, whether it is the internet or phone. This exchanged medical information in the form of online doctor consultations and printable doctors’ excuses online in turn is used to improve the patient’s health or direct them in the right path.

Commonly referred to as online medical consultation services, telemedicine is not different from the actual practice of medicine; it is just the application of the standard, accepted practice of medicine, to electronic communication, thus making it more widely accessible and easier to obtain by the general public. With technology at everyone’s fingertips, it is no wonder that a rapidly increasing number of people are turning to the internet for online doctor consultations and printable doctors’ excuses. To date, approximately 36 million Americans have already been treated by telemedicine through online doctor consultations and/or prescriptions. A survey showed that over 70{b8199d4e76d5c4c4a9fa89ec04f495f77a40e6e04d2b7b455e3b26e8fd6a6d2e} of patients indicate that they are willing to try online doctor consultations and online prescription services rather than going into an office when they have a minor illness.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has reported that possibly 70{b8199d4e76d5c4c4a9fa89ec04f495f77a40e6e04d2b7b455e3b26e8fd6a6d2e} of all doctors visits are for information or a consultation of sorts that could easily be handled over a phone. All of these visits cost medical providers and patients alike for the unnecessary trips. It has been estimated that as much as $300 billion of health care costs are wasteful and unnecessary, thus resulting in higher insurance costs for groups and individuals alike.

Are These Goals Within United States’ Reach?

The three targeted goals when it comes to improving the U.S. healthcare system according to President Obama are the following:

o Reform the healthcare system;
o Promote scientific and technological advancements; and
o Improve preventative care

With the rapid advancement of telemedicine, or online doctor consultation and online prescription services, the aforementioned goals are most definitely within our reach.

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