Doctor in a box

Description: Imagine a quick, inexpensive trip to the doctor at all hours of the night.


Date: Jan 15, 2013


click on link to watch video

 Questions for discussion:

1.  Do you feel that this type of health care has a bright future? Why or Why not?

2.  What situations would this type of medical care be most appropriate or advantageous?


27 thoughts on “Doctor in a box

  1. Xiao Yang

    As far as I am concerned, I do not believe this technology product has a future. Patient can’t see doctor though remote access software whenever or wherever. There is some limitation about that. This techology can also waste lots of time as traditional way, it can not save patients time actually. Moreover, I think patients diagnosed by doctors through some ways like Skype has a huge shortcoming. the effective and accurate way to diagnosed should not far away from physical interactive communication. It still needs to be that physical interaction so that doctors are able to look over the symptoms.I also think it would be beneficial here in Canada as many people just go to the doctor for a common cold or some minor health issue when there are usually more important cases that need more urgent care. All in all, I still do not believe this technology product has a bright future.

  2. Amber Siemens

    The only way I can see this having some what of a bright future, is if they used it more for prescribing medications, giving out doctors’ notes to patients, or diagnosing the common colds/ flu’s that go around each year. To use this type of health care on a regular basis, I don’t think would make much of a difference, because when you are actually hurt, you need to phystically see a doctor anyways. I know personally for me, to make a doctors’ appointment only to get a refill on my birth control, seems to be a waste of the doctors’ time when he could be allocating that time to something much more important. I also think this would help more students being able to see a doctor, (even if he is online,or whatever the case may be) as a lot of them are coming from out of town, and they do not have a family doctor in the city they are going to school. A lot of them struggle being able to see a doctor for something that is non life threatening. With this kind of technology, it could reduce the amount of people waiting for hours in the walk- in clinics as well. A lot of the people in those walk- in clinics are going in there for something extremely minimal to begin with.

  3. Samantha Mazury

    Yes I believe the application of this type of health care has a bright future, especially in the Canadian Health Care system. I believe that this new technology-service could immensely help cut down the amount of minor non-emergent cases that are currently swamping emergency rooms, especially in Canada. I especially like the idea that its purpose is not to replace or mimic actual human doctors, but to provide a way for patients and a doctor via Skype to connect when a doctor is unavailable or emergency times are long. This technology is also a way better alternative for patients than the current websites and apps that people turn to when a doctor is unavailable, which provides them with overwhelming information and possibilities that lead to misinterpretation and over exaggeration of possible diagnosis’s.

    I see the most advantageous or appropriate situations/environments for this type of health care would be the emergency rooms in hospitals, urgent care facilities, or certain facilities specifically dedicated to this type of health care. In these types of settings it would help cut down the amount non-emergent cases in hospitals waiting rooms and help those non-emergent patients get the help they need faster so they can go back home.

    Although as will all new technologies, products and services there are the associated costs, which makes me wonder how and if the health care system will allocate funds to make this a possibility. Also I wonder how effective this will be, as the matter of how actual treatment is provided was not mentioned in the video.

  4. Brendan Paiha

    Technology like this definitely has a place in countries like Canada. I waited 3 hours in the waiting room for my last doctors appointment even though it was only a minor health issue. The doctor in the video even mention that they are no designed to replace real life doctors, just to fill in after hours. Its certainly a better alternative to having Web MD immediately tell you you likely have cancer when you search about a sore back. As long as these machines are not abused by the hospitals or users, they could continue to advance to a point where they can deal minor health issues. It also helps that a doctor or nurse is connected to the patient via skype ensure the human element is still there.
    Hospital waiting times are only going to get worse, especially in Canada. Half the waiting room is filled with belly aches and sore arms. These vendor could help leave the waiting room to serious health problems. Everyone wins. If the computer detects symptoms of something more serious, it can send you over to a real doctor. Giving the state of technology today, something like this isn’t out of reach. Medical processes that require a high level of accuracy and risk should always be handled by real doctors or nurses though. It would be crazy to leave a computer to handle making an incision, tie a stitch or distribute shots. Its unlikely the technology capable of doing this will be available any time soon.

  5. Rémi Cizeron

    Those health centers may have a great future because it is a great alternative when your own doctor is not available. It is good thing for emergencies. You have a real doctor in front of you so nearly have exactly the same consultation that with your doctor. You can have the best advices for you or your family very quickly. The only thing is for the real emergencies; if you have a real big problem you may need some quick care. And it may be not appropriate.
    One other point: If they want these health centers work, they may have to develop it a lot. If you can find these centers near your house, or near malls, I am quite sure that it is going to work.
    After it is going to difficult for doctors to find the real symptoms of their patient. Because we can also go on the Internet to find what we have. The only thing that is changing is the prescription.

    Those health centers would be appropriate for little diseases that only need a prescription. It would be faster and will let some free time to doctors who need to take care of other patient that really need it.

  6. Jessica Larsen

    I think this type of health care could have a bright future if it is implemented in the right ways and if its limitations are understood. This technology would include a shorter wait time than most doctors’ offices and therefore the advice that patients get from the doctor on Skype can be used by the patient in a much timelier manner. This technology also is very convenient compared to a doctor’s office which only has certain working hours. With the technology you would be able to obtain medical advice at any time, even when most doctors’ offices are closed. This type of medical care would be best used for minor injuries, or things that do not necessitate a visit to the hospital but fall outside of a doctors working hours. This technology might also work well in places where there is a great distance to the nearest medical center.
    While it won’t be able to do many things such as put a cast on someone’s arm or run the numerous tests one might have to run in order to find out what is wrong with someone, this technology could take some of the stress away from hospitals as people like first time parents who are worried about their child could visit one of these machines instead of going to a hospital for minor things. If needed the doctor who people are talking with could either let them know if they need to go to the hospital or ease their worries.
    This technology has many limitations though as it will not be able to help with many things. And most of what it can help you with, you could also find in other places such as the internet. But it will give you the advice of a professional.

  7. Julie Anderson

    I think that the man had a very good point when he said that what ATMs are to banks, “doctor in a box” is to the doctor’s office. Their purpose is convenience, and in today’s society I think anything convenient has a bright future. People will go to ATMs even with high service charges purely because it is easier than finding their bank. People will react the same way to the health spot stations. If they have a minor health concern that they want to have checked out, but cannot make it to a doctor’s office, they will still receive the care they require through the technology connection. The downfall is that if a person visits a health spot unit with a serious medical condition, like a heart attack, the doctor communicating through Skype cannot do anything to physically help the patient. It can be very difficult for doctors to diagnose and advise a patient without physical contact.
    Health spot would be most appropriate to provide medical advice to people in rural areas where good medical care is not always available. The people living in these areas would be able to have access to high quality medical advice by Skype-ing with experienced doctors. It is also much more sanitary than traditional health care options because it is thoroughly disinfected per use. Patients traditionally run the risk of spreading and sharing their germs in the waiting room and through touching common objects like door handles. By having a more isolated and controlled environment, this risk is eliminated.

  8. Janine Hawkins

    I can only see this type of technology being beneficial in certain settings. It would be good when people are not experiencing an emergency but need something such as a referral or prescription refilled. But any treatment past that I don’t think is possible.
    Unfortunately many of the tests needed by doctor to make a diagnosis are not possible in this pod. Even simple tests such as looking down a patients throat and collecting a swab to check if they have strep throat or looking in their ear to see if they have an infection isn’t possible. Because of the lack of contact that doctors can have with the patients I think this technology is a waste of time. This technology may be useful for people who don’t have access to a medical facility. But if you are requiring immediate medical attention this box isn’t going to help you.
    In Alberta we have Health Link which in my opinion is more beneficial than this technology. We are able to call and ask nurses questions much like this pod provides. Additionally, many people can check their own heart rate and temperature at home if the nurses require it.
    Since this pod only provides patients with an avenue to communicate with doctors but not any actual treatment, I don’t think this technology has a bright future. Programs like Health Link is cheaper than these pods would cost and would provide the same information to patients. I also think that doctors should be spending more time with sick patients than Skype with patients that might have a cold.

  9. Arlene Across The Mountain

    I personally think this is a very good idea! I have three kids and in the past have spent hours upon hours in the ER waiting room. This will free up a lot of doctors time which would allow them to serve the patients that need urgent medical care. I’ve seen a few comments posted about how a person would still need to drive to the machine and wait in line; if one doesn’t want to leave the house, why not call the health link line? I guarantee you will be waiting online for a while. With this technology, at least, you would visually be seeing a doctor/medical assistant. This type of technology would be more effective on the people who are not in life threatening situations. If this were incorporated into the medical systems here in Alberta, I will definitely be using it!

  10. Bailey Bruised head

    I don’t know if it will have a “bright” future but I do believe there is a future it. For children I can see it helpful especially for first time parents, now you can call the helpline to try diagnose what is wrong with you but if you could go somewhere without having to wait to see a doctor and get tested on the spot, I think that is great for people who need help right away. I just don’t think a lot of people will see the advantage of this when they can just physically go to the doctor, especially with people who have broken bones or cuts that need stitches, what is the doctor on the screen going to be able to do about stuff like that? And what about wait times, does a person using that box have a specific time that they can be in there? I think eventually these boxes will be great to have around but I think I will stick with going to the doctor, physically. I think these boxes will be most appropriate for the person who has the common cold, all the doctor has to tell them is to go to the pharmacy and pick up some cold medicine. Or if the person has the odd question about stomach pain and stuff like that, things that are easy to detect.

  11. Melanie Scheffelmair

    I do not believe this type of medical care had a bright future. The fact that is has been compared to ATMs is frightening. You don’t need a bank teller to get you money out of your account,ask all the people who keep their money under their mattress. Doctors will always be needed, that is why there is a demand for them. I see the point of having after hour care centers that are not the ER, however this is the type of thing that should not be replaced with a computer. Instead of this “box” people should use resources like Healthlink or Walk-ins or Urgent Care facilities. For example Healthlink can be accessed over the phone from your house, if you are sick you should not be going to a public area and spreading your germs. A nurse (trained professional) will advise you on what to do. An area that might benefit from this type of technology would be pharmacy, like Shoppers. It would useful for people who know they have a cold but don/t know what kind of medicine would be best. They would be able to use this technology if the pharmacist was busy or gone for the night.

  12. Stacey Ridler

    From the information provided on this healthcare innovation I would say this has a bright future. Starting with this is a health spot for minor medical symptoms, minor being the key word. I believe this would alleviate many motherly and fatherly concerns for their children. Many first time mothers and fathers have many questions regarding health for their little ones and need some reassurance in their decisions for minor fevers and such. I can remember a few nights staying awake watching my daughter and knowing she is not sick enough for an emergency visit but still needing some medical attention. The innovation of this technology aids mothers and fathers in educated decision making when it comes to health care.

    I am fortunate that I live in a smaller town and have more access to faster care when in overpopulated areas people are not so fortunate. I believe situations such as mild symptoms for small children and elderly patients would be most appropriate and advantageous of this innovation. Small children and elderly are the ones that can worsen the quickest and sometimes cannot express how they feel. Having such a system to be able to help those who don’t have the answers looking after such individuals would make these mild symptoms less worrisome and would also provide education to those caring for them.

  13. Kyle Dalton

    I don’t believe that this health care technology has a very good outlook for the future. I can see many issues that could arise with this idea. Location is a major issue. Where will you be able to find these when they are established? Will you have one in every neighbourhood or will you have to travel great distance to find them? Usage will be another big problem faced by many people. How easy will it be? How will people (generalization on elderly people or perhaps foreign born) find using the technology? Will it be easily understood on how to operate it? A simple issue might be connectivity, i.e. if the internet is down how will you be able to Skype with a doctor? Another issue would be maintenance and upkeep. The video mentions an employee will be on hand to sterilize supplies. It would be hard to guarantee the upkeep necessary to properly maintain this facility and its supplies, not to mention possible vandalism or theft. Funding for this technology to exist would be expensive and the issue of who would pay for it (whether donation or taxation?) would present a problem. I only think this medical care would be appropriate or advantageous at medical centres (or possible assisted living areas for those unable to travel easily). I think that this is also to ensure that properly trained employees are on sight to handle any issues that may arise from its use. This also acts against its function in my opinion.

  14. Dani Rasmussen

    I feel like this type of health care has an extremely bright future if used in the correct ways! If these portable medical care stations became accessible at many different locations it would make “going to the doctor” that much easier. People would be able to not only save tons of time but this would be so much more convenient. Most people do not like going to the doctors for numerous different reasons, as well not everyone has a family doctor. Waiting for your turn at a walk in clinic can sometimes take hours! This can be extremely frustrating is the fast moving society we live in these days. This not only adds to convenience it helps to fill the gap of being able to access doctors more effortlessly during any hour of the day/night. This really benefits the human population because there’s nothing worse then wanting to see a doctor and not be able to because they are not open. It also notes that it is an inexpensive alternative, so there are so many advantages to this. I think that this medical care would be most appropriate towards younger families and younger individuals who are more willing to easily adapt to these changes of technological advancement. They are more willing to try these new advancements with more of an open mind then I think the senior population would. It would be great for young mothers who have one sick child and do not want to wait in a waiting room hours on end with other young active children running around disturbing other sick individuals.

  15. ornella cleone

    In one way, this technology could have a bright future. This is so because, it facilitates the process of consultation, economizes time so that much work is completed within a small time period, that is, instead of having to walk a long way to the hospital one will only have to sit at home and have his or her consultation, and in an eventuality of any emergency arising, there is an emergency room to carter for such situations. It is true; this emergency room will not be of any help in particular situations, let’s say someone is hardly injured after having a car accident and is in great pain. Discussing with the doctor on Skype won’t really help to ease the pain, but in certain situations where by the patient is maybe stressed because of one symptom or the other, having the doctor’s advice and comforting voice might really help in bringing down the yes this technology has a bright future but can’t replace the role of doctors since it serves just as a way of reducing waiting time, which often leads to the deterioration of a patients state. Therefore, this technology could be more applicable in stress control situations, mental difficulties whereby a patient could easily be instructed on the way to behave if faced with a certain situation thereby reducing stress, unnecessary panicking and quick response in difficult situations. This could also be compared to the ATM machine system used by banks to facilitate payments and permitting customers to retrieve money at any time

  16. Donggu Kang

    I think, this type if health care has a bright future as using the machine is easy and continent like the developer said. It will be the same as using an ATM machine when banks are closed. With the right settings and right purposes, it will be effective for people and the society. In Canada, when you do not book an appointment to see a doctor, it is hard to see doctors and get checked or you have to spend so much time waiting for a doctor when you do not book in appointment. But with the machine, people will not have to book an appointment to see a doctor; they will go to the machine whenever they need. Also people and doctors will save a lot of time, even though, people book an appointment, sometimes people have to wait for days or weeks to just see doctors and get checked and this is because of growing population. As the population grows and society has more elderly people, it is certain that people need to see more doctors. But with the machine that can Skype with doctors, people with minor illness can save time for waiting in a line to see a doctor and doctors can more concentrate on major patients who seriously need care. When this system works properly, I think, I can see that it could develop into online like online banking. Sick people have hard time see a doctor, they have to drive to clinic and get checked up and it is very hard for them to do. But with the idea of using Skype, people may be able to see a doctor with their smartphones in the future.

  17. mina omidian

    I do not believe that this technology has a future because doctor’s may not be able to properly diagnose a patient over skype. The physical interaction still needs to occur in order to see the symptoms other wise I could just go online and google my own symptoms. this creates another problem or getting the prescriptions because people could use and abuse the system to get prescriptions that are lying about to get. there are some positive notes on going to this box such as if the waiting rooms are all full and you have just a little cold or something that it beats waiting in a waiting room for hours on end. Doctors get paid very well and having them being able to physically asses the problems would be more useful for their time used.
    in a situation for which this would be advantageous would be if someone needed a prescription refill on something that they will always need such as birth control, asthma inhalers etc . these are things that you do not need to wait hours on end for just to get a prescription for.

  18. Paul Hruby

    1.) This has a HUGE, HUGE future. This is amazing. For a non-e.r. setting this is perfect, this allows people to easily see a doctor, get greater input on visits, and be able to decrease the number of doctors you’d need as long as the machine can diagnose some simple stuff (like the broken vs sprained ankle test” by itself. This would result in fewer doctors being able to serve more people through Skype and decreasing healthcare costs.
    2.) This is especially useful because doctors won’t even need to come in when they’re on call for this, it can all be done at their home office which is simply awesome. Great tool can’t wait to see more of these around.

  19. Jericka Versikaitis

    I don’t believe that this technology has a future. As it may be beneficial to some people, there are things over Skype that a Doctor would not be able to tell and may not be able to fully diagnose a patient or even wrongly diagnose a patient. However, I do see these boxes becoming very useful in areas or third world countries where doctors are not as easily accessed or if it would be a cost free way for them to see a doctor. I also think it would be beneficial here in our country as a lot of people just go to the doctor for a common cold or some rash when there are usually more important cases that need more urgent care. With Skype however, a doctor will still have to be giving up some of their time to meet with all these patients so it doesn’t really save doctors time at all. I feel no matter how advanced technology gets, we are always going to need doctors so these boxes will not eliminate the use of them but rather make it possible for people to get help when or where they usually can’t.

  20. Ryan Parks

    There is some future to this method of medical help. The doctor who is Skyping with the patients can potentially help more people by being connected to multiple stations which can be spread out so that people do not have to travel far to reach one in times of need. Thus, as he or she finishes with one patient, the next one will automatically pop up to be helped. This should reduce the load on hospitals during hours when doctors’ offices are closed and will allow doctors to telecommute from wherever is most comfortable for them. This technology will be most advantageous in a situation where it is believed that people will receive just as good of care by going to one of these boxes as by seeing a doctor in person.

  21. Jonathan Linowski

    Do I feel that this type of health care has a bright future? I hate to say it, but yes I do. Although, I struggle to call it “bright”. I’d rather call it inevitable. This type of health care is inevitable in our future. There are a few reasons for this inevitability, the first being profit. If we consider the health care industry a profit driven business like any other (an easy call to make in the U.S. model), one of the largest expenses we will incur is our employee’s salaries. From a business standpoint, it is in our best interests to constantly seek ways to improve our employees productivity, and make the most of the fewest possible people. This technology would allow us to do exactly that. There would be no need to employ so many doctors at each hospital and clinic, because they could be centralized elsewhere to provide remote support – or even out sourced internationally (pending some legislation changes). In addition, the massive overhead costs of huge hospitals, and numerous clinics could be reduced because of the reduced need for large waiting rooms, and the number of examination rooms.

    The second reason for this inevitability is because of the growing number of people, and the increasing demand for the health care resources available. At this point in time, we have more people alive than anytime before, and a senior population almost as large as the younger generations it needs to support it. Meeting the demand for an already strained resource requires new technologies to be implemented, and for minor issues, this seems like this remote care idea is capable of doing so effectively and efficiently.

  22. yuxuan.hou

    for my personal opinion , i do not believe this technology product has a huge future, this technology has widely boundedness. patient still can’t see doctor though remote access software whenever or wherever, patient still have to go to somewhere that appointed by the doctor that he wants to meet . these situation still waste lots of time as traditional way. the only improve of this technology is provide little bit free to doctor, moreover, patients diagnosed by doctors through something like Skype has a huge weakness. the effective and accurate way to diagnosed should not far away from physical interactive communication. so i do not believe this technology product has a huge future

  23. Kerri Ross

    I think this could work. In the right setting being used for the right reasons this could be effective. I like how the patient would be able to Skype with a doctor within this ‘doctor office atm’ and that it will have built in tools to take body measurements, however this is relying on patients to be taking their measurements properly. This also relies on the technology not to have glitches and what about privacy? Health information is protected by privacy acts, how does this machine abide by the acts? We have to remember also what this aching was built to do. It is not to diagnosis people with diabetes or to say that they have cancer. This machine was built to stop worried mothers from brining in their children to the ER. This is a tool to help diagnosis sore throat and ear infections. If we can just remember that, then I think there could be great possibilities for this technology.

  24. Adam Houtekamer

    I hope people like this one.

    The question associated with this video on whether or not it has a bright future I would answer with god I hope so. I get very frustrated with individuals and how they treat doctors, I often hear people complain about how their doctor wasted their time and how stupid they are, further I see and hear about lots of people going to clinics or emergency for things like a rash, a cold, or maybe their arm hurts when they “do this”. To these people I say a couple of things: first of all don’t “do that” and second of all you shouldn’t have wasted their time. They’re trained medical professionals and their time shouldn’t be wasted on telling people to take a couple days off work and take Tylenol. I once broke a bone in my hand and didn’t go to the doctor for a month for this very reason. (I now know this was mistake as my hand kind of looks like mash potatoes and they can’t do anything – oh well.)
    Now I should make it clear I am in no way discrediting the importance of medical care but I am in fact doing the very opposite. It is a resource afforded to us by the government and should be used to the utmost where it is necessary. I support these machines because they would be great became popular so that they can in effect tell people to take Tylenol instead and if they do identify a problem then they can seek the professional help they require. Maybe they can even give doctors notes out so people can guild free get out of work and feel okay about it in a much cheaper way than paying a doctor to do so – efficiency.

  25. Simone Olmstead

    Does this type of health care have a bright future? I would have to say no, I don’t think that this will revolutionize the health care industry. You still need to physically see a doctor. The doctor needs to physically examine a patient. If the doctor is there through Skype, why can’t he be there in person? Patients can’t get proper thorough care from a doctor through a machine. I wouldn’t want to use it and I wouldn’t take my kids to use it. Maybe I could see an advantage for U.S citizens because they don’t have the same health care system that we have here in Canada and for some people living in the U.S it could be better than nothing. However, I still think that a human life is deserving of the best care possible and I don’t feel that this technology is giving that. I think that are too many flaws with trying to diagnose someone properly and accurately through Skype. But, again for certain people living in the U.S they may disagree and think that this is better than nothing.

  26. Jodi Berry

    I do not believe that this technology has a future because a doctor may not be able to properly diagnose a patient over skype. There still needs to be that physical interaction so that they are able to fully look over the symptoms. And what if the patient needed a prescription? This creates a whole other problem of security and validity of those prescriptions given out through this box. They may be abused by patients lying about symptoms and these patients would be granted a prescription with just a simple visit to the box. I can see the merit if the waiting room is full and your child has a minor cold, but most trips to the emergency room are not this simple, and if they are then we should not be assisting people who are using emergency rooms and the health care system for something as simple as a child’s cold. Plus this takes away a doctors time that he could physically be treating a patient. He is still getting paid regardless of how he gives the medical attention and I think that they should be putting the doctors to use giving the best attention possible instead of trying to treat and diagnose a patient when the can’t even touch them or study their symptoms. Although it is a neat idea, I think there are still too many flaws in the plan and execution of the box and that health care is just too sensitive of a field to cut out the physical interaction all together.

  27. Jaden Evanson

    I don’t think this has much of a future. I honestly don’t see how this helps – the sick person still has to drive somewhere, most likely wait in a line, and then sees a doctor through Skype. Meanwhile, a doctor still has to devote his time to the sick person before he can move on to another. While it may shave a few minutes off per visit, I don’t think it’s all that useful. They said that doctor in a box was going to be a revolution like the ATM was. The reason the ATM was so successful was that you didn’t need a bank teller. With this, you still need a doctor. Now, if the doctor in the machine was a powerful A.I., then I would say yes. However, I believe that technology is still beyond us.


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