Is Telemedicine Dead Before It Arrives?

Telemedicine.

We've all heard of it.

But sadly, few have embraced it as a mainstream modality for care. It's a technological system that works well, is widely available, and often reimbursed.

Yet the actual conversion is slow and problematic.

The key might be a simple trial—and the emergence of a love affair with the combination of quality and convenience. And some even argue that today, we are actually at the inflection point of adoption where telemedicine becomes well accepted and widely used.

I think that might be the case.

But there's something looming in the distance that might disrupt the disruption of telemedicine.

Enter the world of the chatbot. Yes, those cold and impersonal voices and texts that annoy you to no end. But the reality is much more optimistic as the emergence of chatbots become a viable tool for human conversation and engagement.

The natural conversation with a computer offers something that is not just "human-like" but actually "uber-human" and establishes new potential that makes a video chat with a doctor feel a bit yesterday.

And while many will still cling to the humanity of a traditional engagement, the potential for unique pairing of a bot for with specific needs—from language to gender neutrality—can enhance and even optimize the engagement.

But that's the fairly conventional part of the story.

Build into the dialogue the role of artificial intelligence, language analytics and the emerging aspect of voice, breath and speech patterns and what emerges is tomorrow's telemedicine that expands the role of a simple conversation to a diagnostic tool in of itself.

How far in the future? 

Perhaps a glance at Google's Duplex will give us hint. In their own words, Google establishes the basis for this innovation that will take the chatbot to a new and exciting level.

Google Duplex’s conversations sound natural thanks to advances

Think about that. Understand, interacting, timing and speaking.

That's a lot of what I want from my physician—at the office and on telemedicine

. And these advances are quickly changing the game across commerce.

  Perhaps first used in something as simple as a reservation, but soon moving to more complex engagements that would make Alan Turing proud.

I'm a fan of telemedicine.

And I believe it's an important tool in advancing digital health and providing superior care to a wide variety of individuals.

But in today's world of exponential changes, one can argue that if it works, it's already obsolete! 

The struggle of telemedicine's well-financed journey may be at the proverbial tipping point.

But the tip might be toward a new, technology-empowered option, that makes that phone chat with a doctor already yesterday's news.

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