Elisabeth Rosenthal Talks with The Resonance Test about Telemedicine


“I Want the Pandemic to Have Opened the Door [to Telemedicine], Not Let the Genie Out of the Bottle”

The Resonance Test 65: Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal

June 23, 2021
by Jonathon SwerseyKen Gordon
er book pix

We learned many long-distance lessons during the pandemic. One of the most important involved visiting the doctor. As Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, author of An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back and Editor-in-Chief of Kaiser Health News, tells our Jonathon Swersey in the latest episode of The Resonance Test: “Many of us spend way too much time schlepping into doctors’ offices for things that could be done perfectly well over the phone.”

The pandemic took telemedicine mainstream. Many who previously had only heard of it were forced to experience, practice, and pay for it. The question is: What’s it worth? “Is it 50% of a real, in-person visit? 70%? 100%? Sometimes [it’s] 120%! But I think it really depends on the kind of visit, and how it’s used, and who is creating the telemedicine system.”

Regarding the myriad unresolved details of telemedicine—what works well remotely, what must be done in person, how to value all these different treatment options—Rosenthal says: “We have a lot of sorting out to do.”

Rosenthal is, admittedly, somewhat skeptical about virtual care. “My worry always that it will be sold as useful because it’s commercial, before it’s useful—and that could give the whole field a bad name, frankly.” But whatever happens when the big telemedicine sort finally happens, it must ultimately be about creating balance. People will always need to do some things in a non-virtual way. As Rosenthal reminds us: “You can’t test someone’s reflexes on a screen.”

Host: Alison Kotin
Engineer: Kyp Pilalas
Producer: Ken Gordon

The Resonance Test 65: Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal
filed in: healthcare, complex systems, digital design

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