HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Teladoc: The Next Big Thing?

The Detroit News ran a story (9/11/05) about a telephone service run out of Dallas that allows patients to get a diagnosis and prescription over the phone from a doctor they will never see:

A quick phone call and about $55 can snag ailing patients a diagnosis and prescription -- from a doctor they can't see and will never meet.

A Dallas company called TelaDoc is moving into the Midwest and Metro Detroit with a controversial service that provides medical consultations over the phone. The target: patients crunched for time and money, and fed up with waiting days for a doctor's appointment.

"Why should you have to wait two days to get two minutes with a doctor for allergies you had last year?" said Michael Gorton, TelaDoc's chief executive officer. "If you've got a routine issue and can't get into the doctor, we're there to bridge the gap."

The fledgling company links patients with doctors who make decisions based on an electronic medical history and symptoms described by the patient. For individuals, TelaDoc Medical Services costs $18 to join, and $4.25 a month. Each call to a doctor is $35. A return phone call is guaranteed within three hours.

TelaDoc's founders say the service is the next big thing in the growing market niche of quick and convenient medical care, in an era where patients already can go to Target for a checkup or pay extra for prompt service at the family doctor.

Call me crazy.  Call me old-fashioned.  This doesn't sound like a very promising way to deal with the cost and access issues in our health care system. [tm]

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