As CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta says, “In the world of telehealth, the doctor will always make a house call by mobile device or other technological means. Surely, this is a way to improve the global health of the world.”

Improved access and efficiency

According to Gupta, there’s no question that mobile health (mHealth), or communication via mobile technology in real time to improve and change the outcome of health, is coming fast.

“‘‘Tele’ is a prefix meaning ‘at a distance,’ and patients should look to see if a provider is licensed or has history of malpractice.’”

“It will revolutionize the industry,” says Gupta. “If you have an established relationship with your M.D. and they are available via mHealth, then continuity of care is a big win for you.”

It also has great potential for rural patients who would like access to a greater number of medical experts. And, for those in developing countries where people have very limited access to high quality medical care but more reliable access to a mobile device, Gupta says it has even greater ability to change health outcomes.

He also mentions electronic medical records should become the standard, because they will help reduce common errors resulting from poor communication between internal hospital departments.

OUTSIDE THE NEWSROOM: Dr. Gupta breaks a sweat with the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge Team. Hawaii, 2012.

Potential problems

Though the American Medical Association is in favor of telehealth, as long as there is an established doctor-patient relationship, there are still a few issues that prevent widespread adoption, including limited coverage for telehealth services and software kinks relating to accuracy and regulation.  

As with any health care service, consumers should always advocate for themselves and be aware of risks. “By definition,” Gupta explains, “‘tele’ is a prefix meaning ‘at a distance,’ and patients should look to see if a provider is licensed or has history of malpractice.”

Consumers can check state medical board records online to see if a doctor has a license to practice or has any claims against them. While not yet perfect, the modern house call holds great—even mind-blowing—promise for patients everywhere.