Read Original Story

The Doctor’s Not In: Checkup By Teleconference

Rating

4 Star

The Doctor’s Not In: Checkup By Teleconference

Our Review Summary

In this story we learn about a new concept in urgent care: checkups by teleconference. This technology purports to fill gaps in healthcare, providing convenient care for minor ailments. With long waits at emergency rooms, this concept is very appealing. However, this story fails to describe the evidence to support the claim that this type of care delivery is as safe and effective as traditional care.

The medical ethics expert points out several potential harms of the technology, such as mistaking a major condition for a minor one or ignoring true emergencies. The story mentions emergency room and urgent care centers as the alternatives. The story should have provided some more detail about the pros and cons of the different options. The story quotes two sources, the physician who is affiliated with the teleconferencing company and an independent medical ethicist. The story could have provided some additional perspectives, such as from a doctor who works in urgent care settings.

Most importantly, the story does not provide any evidence to support the claim that these centers provide care that is at least as safe or as good quality as regular visits. Also, the story does not attempt to quantify the benefits of the technology nor does it state where these centers are located and how common they are.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story does mention that the co-pay of an ED visit is $100 compared to $65 for the teleconference. However, ED co-pays vary widely depending on insurance.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not attempt to quantify the benefits.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The medical ethics expert points out several potential harms, such as mistaking a major condition for a minor one or ignoring true emergencies.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not provide any evidence to support the claim that these centers provide care that is at least as good quality as regular visits.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Applicable

Because this story does not deal with a specific disease, disease mongering is not applicable.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story quotes two sources, the physician who is affiliated with the teleconferencing company and an idependent medical ethicist. The story could have provided some additional perspectives, such as doctors who work in urgent care settings. The balance of the story would have been better if it addressed such issues as the percentage of Americans without insurance, a list of appropriate conditions that would be potentially handled in this manner, and other points of view.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story mentions emergency room and urgent care centers as the alternatives. The story should have provided some more detail about the pros and cons of the different options.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not state where these centers are located and how common they are.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story clearly states that this is new technology.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

Although the network turned to an independent medical ethicist for his perspective, the story still felt, for the most part, like an infomercial for a niche market area that is being introduced. Nonetheless, we can’t be sure if the story relied largely on a news release.

Total Score: 5 of 8 Satisfactory

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