Does Telemedicine Work?

"I'll see you seven days a week. If I have a doubt, you're coming to see me. If you have a doubt, you're coming to see me," he said.

"I have many cases in the past five years that my answering the phone resulted in a significant outcome difference for that person."

Dappen conducts half his visits by phone or e-mail. It's freed him up so he now can offer good, old-fashioned house calls.

Mary Padgett and her family are patients of Dappen who appreciate the convenience of telemedicine but enjoy the rapport that face-to-face interaction provides.

"I have a relationship with him. It's not just someone over the Internet or that I talk to on the phone. I actually know him and he knows everything about us," she said.

If you want to try telemedicine, keep in mind it's best for routine problems you've had before. Don't use it for any condition so pressing that you can't wait 24 hours for an answer.

To avoid back and forth, provide details, such as your pharmacy's phone number and convenient times for you to come in. Some insurance companies now pay for phone and e-mail visits, so try to get reimbursed. And if your symptoms don't go away, go to your doctor in person.

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