With the opening of a telemedicine clinic in the Sonoma Safeway – a story Lorna Sheridan covered in the IT’s June 14 issue – the question of how people would respond to such a high-tech option was obvious: “Would you use a tele-medicine doctor at a supermarket?”
Turns out that whatever fears of Big Brother (or Big Doctor) the innovation conjures, most people who responded to our (non-scientific) survey said, “Yes, it could be convenient or efficient.” Just over 50 percent felt that way, and many gave reasons for their choice.
Still, a strong third of respondents said “No, I prefer a personal relationship with my doctor,” while about one in ten gave us a shrug with the “It doesn’t matter to me” answer. Presumably these people either have full health insurance, or are in their hale and hearty early decades.
As usual, the comments are the most insightful part of the poll. That majority who supported the idea of a digital doctor shared a primary reason: convenience.
“In an emergency, it would be very good to have,” said one, while another told us “If my insurance covered it I would use it.”
A couple have even already used this Skype method of health care. “We have already used a video conference with a specialist and it was much easier than making a whole day trip out of Sonoma, fighting traffic!”
And another: “I used a similar clinic in another Safeway last week. It was about the same cost it would have been to see a doctor through my insurance, and I couldn’t wait a week for the next available appointment. For me it was a good experience.”
Those who shy from such diagnostic shortcuts had more questions. “Does it cost? Who funds it? Where do the doctors come from? Where did they go to college, medical school or whatever? More info is needed before anybody should answer this survey.” (Thank you for this response – and thank you for your answer.)
“It’s too much like fantasy TV,” said another. “I prefer real professionals when it comes to dealing with my health! I would have to do the examining / diagnosing!”
And, “There is no substitute for a personal relationship with anyone providing any kind of health care.”
While a digital diagnosis might not be for everyone, one woman who responded in the positive provided a convincing argument: “Great for some visits, like gynecological. Seriously folks, I would love to have that experience remotely.”
Take Our Survey
This week’s survey is already on our website, at sonomanews.com/polls. It was prompted by a hoax sign announcing a coming fast-food restaurant on Broadway, a sign which some thought was a promise, not a prank.
So we ask Sonomans, “What fast-food outlet would you like to see in the Valley?
Visit the survey page and make your choice.