On behalf of Hastings Law Firm posted in Doctor Errors on Friday, December 13, 2013.

Most everyone has heard the old adage an apple a day keeps the doctor away. However, can the same be true for technology? Has technology truly become so advanced that patients can “chat” or electronically communicate with doctors without the need for a physical exam or testing? According to one recent report, such technology already exists and may be a new face for doctors. One can only ponder, however, whether technology designed to eliminate the need for a physical doctor visit opens a door for a greater chance of failure to recognize or diagnose illnesses.

According to a recent report, Phillip McGraw, known as “Dr. Phil,” and his son have recently started up an online process known as “Doctor on Demand.” Doctor on Demand is an online platform designed to reduce the number of crowded doctor and hospital waiting rooms. The platform is operated via mobile device where patients can video chat with doctors without ever having to leave their home or office. The cost of each chat session is listed at $40, with $30 of that going directly to the doctor.

Doctor on Demand is said to allow doctors to diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, provide referrals and set up labs if needed, all via the video chat system. So far, 1,000 doctors across 15 U.S. states have signed on to give the product a try. Not everyone is a proponent of the technology, however, as many U.S. states have implemented laws preventing the platform from being operated within their boundaries.

While the American Medical Association believes that Doctor on Demand could be helpful and beneficial if used properly and in support of more comprehensive care, the success of Doctor on Demand has not been proven. The platform places a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of the doctors employing the technology, as they will be tasked with diagnosing and treating conditions without ever seeing the patient physically. It will be vital that doctors do not rely merely on the patients’ complaints to ensure that they properly recognize and diagnose illnesses. Failure to recognize or diagnose a condition could be life threatening for Texas patients, and only time will tell if the potential rewards of this technology outweigh the risks.

Source: businessweek.com, Dr. Phil-Backed Startup Launches Online Medical Exams, Brad Stone, Dec. 10, 2013