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Make Virtual Appointments With Your Doc

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Your child is sick. Now you have to dress him, drive him to the doctor's office and sit in the waiting room with other coughing and sneezing kids -- or you could email a pediatrician and perhaps have a virtual exam from your couch.

people using computer

A growing trend in healthcare is that more doctors and patients are starting to interact over the Internet. Although the intention isn't to replace traditional in-person healthcare altogether, CNN reports 2009 is when patients will really notice more "eHealth" practices.

Meredith Abreu Ressi, vice president of research for Manhattan Research says, "Because of the Internet, we bank differently than we used to, and we plan our trips differently, and we buy real estate differently," adding, "But we still see our doctor the same way our grandparents did. I think we're about to see big changes in this area." Ressi believes more doctors will start "telehealth" practices where they perform some if not all of their services online.

These are some of the "eHealth" practices you'll notice more of in 2009 that some patients may elect to try:

1. Virtual House Calls
Although still limited, one company called Hellohealth is offering video chats, texting and email between patients and doctors in the Brooklyn, New York area for a monthly fee.

2. Medical Question and Answer Websites
Quick questions may be answered for a small cost on websites including

3. Virtual Clinics
Some Walmarts in Houston, Texas, are offering clinics where patients use a videolink to speak with physicians in a central office. Emergency medical professionals staffed at the clinics are able to operate instruments and do tasks such as taking blood pressure.

4. Twitter (Social Networking Between Doctors)
Doctors are using social networking webites such as Twitter -- twittering other doctors to seek out advice about unusual cases.

5. Online Test Results
Patients would be able to have direct access to view test results.

Are you excited about the conveniences of "eHealth" innovations, or do you believe it's necessary to have only telephone conversations and in-person appointments with your doctor?

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