Fully-credentialled e-doctors still don’t exist, at least not in their entirety but major elements of the concept have already been deployed in the field, and progress toward a more comprehensive e-doc is well underway.

The term ‘doctor in a box’ – once used as a derisive term for physicians that provide primary health care at an hourly rate in unaffiliated ambulatory care clinics – has taken on a very different meaning. There, for the past seven years, it has been used to describe several formats of telemedicine where, instead of flying patients from remote settlements into medical centers for examination and treatment, it involves using either a robot stationed at a nearby local clinic, or a cell phone link from the patient’s home, to connect doctors in medical centers many miles away with that patient’s vital signs, test results, and diagnostic instruments. Continuity of their doctor-patient relationship over time is generally assumed.

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