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Rural areas turning to telehealth amid doctor shortage

  • AMC: The U.S. could see a shortage of up to 50,000 doctors by 2033
  • Doctors turning to technology to help rural areas receive care
  • Critics argue there’s no substitute for an in-person doctor’s office visit

(NewsNation) — One of the most significant challenges confronting the American health care system is the scarcity of primary care physicians in rural areas.

According to the Association of Medical Colleges, the U.S. could see a shortage of up to 50,000 doctors by 2033.

In an effort to address this issue, OnMed has developed a versatile office setup that can be established in any building throughout the U.S.

The innovative solution enables patients to engage in private face-to-face appointments with a doctor on a screen just a few feet away, while also offering the capability to conduct half a dozen diagnostic tests.

“Blood pressure, we have weight, we have temperature, we have a digital stethoscope, we have a pulse oximeter,” said OnMed CEO Tom Vanderheiden. “Then, we have a high-definition camera that does a number of things that will do ocular work so we can look deeply into the eyes. we can look into your mouth down your throat for sore throats, things like that.”

The main goal is to replicate the experience of visiting a traditional doctor’s office. In cases where patients require medication, doctors can prescribe and dispense it immediately on the spot.

“We are a perfect bridge in that scenario where we, you know, we handled today, about 85% of what can be done in a primary care practice,” Vanderheiden said.

While the medical community appreciates the new technology, some argue there’s no substitute for the in-person experience of visiting a doctor’s office.

“I think it is certainly a tool to help mitigate that because it gets something out to rural areas, but I think it’d be a far cry from being a complete solution,” said Dr. Amy Faith Ho. “You learn in medical school that physical exams are extremely important, it is very important to be able to sit there and touch someone’s belly if it’s hurting, or look at someone’s foot in person, if it has a new wound on it, and all that gets lost with telemedicine.”

Doctors NewsNation spoke with agreed that the primary care doctors need to be incentivized to move to rural areas through student loan reimbursement and pay that matches surgical doctors.


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