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The woman's face on the video screen was "very pale" and her pulse, once Elliott showed her how to take it, beat abnormally fast. When Elliott followed up later, she learned that the patient had been diagnosed with bleeding ulcers and needed urgent blood transfusions. "You can't diagnose that unless you are listening to their chest and see what's going on in there." Seeing a virtual doctor could lead to delays in treatment.
"If someone is calling in with chest pain, instead of going right to the emergency department, that delay could have important implications for patient safety," says Lori Uscher-Pines, a researcher at the nonprofit research organization RAND.
Increasingly, employers and insurers are including the services as part of benefits packages.
A recent survey of 140 large employers by the National Business Group on Health found that 74 percent of the nation's largest employers are offering telemedicine services in 2016, up from 48 percent in 2015.
She asked him to squeeze the glands below his jaw and the area below his eyes to test for sensitivity and to describe "the color of whatever was coming out of my nose." "You can tell a lot by looking at people," Antall says.
Antall discovered that her new patient had suffered from a mild cold for about a week that had suddenly turned into something much more painful.
Savings for doctors, hospitals and other providers are "potentially enormous," wrote David Asch, M.
D., of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Care Innovation in the September Annals of Internal Medicine.
Patients also should bypass virtual care if they're experiencing any neurological symptoms, including slurred speech or difficulty moving an arm, says Adams Dudley, M.
D., of the University of California in San Francisco.