Hawaii's Online Health Care Brings Back House Call

Patients can consult with doctors via the web
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2009 4:28 PM CST
Katy Meza, an Hawaii Medical Service Association employee, describes headache symptoms in a simulated conversation with Dr. Patricia Avila on Tuesday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Hawaii now allows residents to consult a physician online, CNET reports. Beginning today, Hawaiians can conduct doctor visits via online chat, telephone or video conferencing. Physicians are available 24/7. While even advocates of the system doubt it can replace in-person visits, the service is expected to be useful for follow-up questions and discussing lab results.

Such tasks don’t “necessarily need to be done on a face-to-face basis,” said one Hawaiian physician, adding that online consultation is “an adjunct” to in-person visits. The service makes valuable use of doctors’ downtime, points out the CEO of American Well, which runs the service. The online system allows them to “capture ‘care opportunities’ out of the same number of physicians that were out there,” Roy Schoenberg said.