I SHUDDERED when I read "The doctor will see you now online" (g, June 1), extolling the benefits of virtual visits with one’s physician. Doctor-patient relationships build over time, often during visits that aren’t for crucial reasons; they are of the utmost importance when the crucial times occur. Moreover, during office visits, doctors often pick up on things that weren’t the reason the patient chose to come in. Patients, too, may come in for one reason, and then, encouraged, talk about something much more significant, such as feeling depressed or noticing a chest pain that might signal something serious.
In our practice, we use electronic communication with our patients. However, we ask them to come in with most new symptoms. We should use computers for the things they do best: keeping track of medications and their interactions; organizing the complicated information in a person’s medical record; providing current, accurate medical knowledge. We should use our in-person time for what it is best at: perception, diagnosis, communication, and caring. Isn’t that what people want from their doctors? It’s what I want, and get, from mine. I’m willing to wait in the waiting room for it.
Dr. Karen E. Victor