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Can FaceTime Improve Your Health?

July 12, 2010

While Apple continues to douse us with heartwarming videos of the many uses of FaceTime, two surgeons have found a very important professional use for it. Could Apple's iPhone actually mean better medical care? We've all seen the commercials of people using FaceTime to see their kids, talk through sign language and other heartwarming scenes. But, up to now, Apple hasn't shown any reason that professional people would need it. However, two physicians who specialize in trying to save limbs from possible amputation found it a great way to do a medical consultation. It not only allows the doctors to talk about the patient, but also examine the patient's injuries while they are talking. Previously, this would have required a doctor to have a PC and a webcam with a long cord in the patient's room which would be very unwieldy. In a press release from Valley Presbyterian Hospital, one of the doctors summed it up nicely:
“Just as with the iPod in music and the laptop in computing, it is not the change in technology, but the change in form factor and ubiquity that alters this landscape."
While FaceTime might seem ubiquitous, being able to use FaceTime from PC's and other devices would make it even more so. In this example case, only one doctor needed the portable form factor while the other could have just as easily used a PC with a webcam (if FaceTime were available on a PC). What do you think? Will FaceTime take some of the location hurdles out of patient's access to quality health care? Can you imagine a time when you could FaceTime your doctor for a quick exam instead of rushing to an ER or urgent care center? How will this affect rural medicine?

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