Virtual house calls: The future of healthcare?

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PHOENIX, Ariz. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – It's being called “the future of healthcare”—telemedicine—which is typically used for doctors in remote areas— is now being tested in people's homes. Now, a new pilot program is keeping doctors and patients connected.

It's the way of the future—from 37 miles away, 92-year-old Jack Taugner meets face-to-face with his doctor without leaving home.

With the touch of a button, jack, who suffers from hypertension, stage four kidney failure, and anemia, connects through an “ipad like” device for a remote, routine appointment.

“We hope it's the way of the future. We think this is what healthcare for the older, sicker patient is going to look like across the world,” Edward Perrin, MD, Family Physician/Geriatrician , Banner iCare, told Ivanhoe.

In one of the largest retirement communities in Arizona, as of April 2014, 174 seniors have signed-up to put these “virtual house calls” to the test, including Jack and daughter Marcia

“I could breathe easy when I walked out the door knowing that there were a team of people to be with me and dad,” Marcia Taugner, Jack’s daughter, told Ivanhoe.

Along with the face time capability, the pilot program called Banner iCare can fill prescriptions through the tablets. Patients even have their vitals checked at home, which are transmitted to a command center.

“When I explain it to patients, they say why are you doing this, and I say, ‘well, we expect to save money and keep people healthy this way,’” Dr. Perrin said.

Still in its infancy, only nine-months-old, the program is hoping to prove convenience and better patient care.

“We have many stories of catching things earlier,” Dr. Perrin explained.

For Jack, the technology has provided peace-of-mind, and he says was easy to learn.

“Elementary, it was simple,” Jack Taugner said.

These virtual house calls come at no additional cost to patients or insurance companies and banner health is hoping to expand the program to 500 patients by this summer.