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6 Comments

  1. 1

    Rorschach

    It has become de rigueur to say the internet is a revolutionary medium. But the only revolution so far is in media and there are plenty of other things that it could be revolutionising – eg finance, health and education.

    Finance and education, sure, and that’s already happening.Health, I have serious doubts.Patient user groups and the like, as mentioned in the interview, maybe, but medicine is not practiced over the phone or the internet, and these services will never be able to replace a personal medical consultation for certain groups, like for the mentally ill, vision-impaired, geriatric, or pediatric populations.But the way I hear it promoted, especially in the context of rural NBN rollout, seem to suggest that that is one of the chief arguments.I think it’s nonsense.

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  2. 2
    Melissa Sweet

    Melissa Sweet

    Nicholas Gruen asked me to post this comment on his behalf: I mostly agree with Rorschach. There are obvious limits to the extent to which clinical medicine can be conducted remotely over the internet (though I’m pleased to see help lines becoming more accepted.  For years we rang interstate when we needed advice in the middle of the night with our kids – because the adjacent state provided the service and the state we were living in didn’t on ‘medical’ grounds. But something can be revolutionary without completely replacing what we have. And Web 2.0 can make huge contributions to social dimensions of health, primary health and the science of medicine in myriad ways.

    One other clarification of Melissa’s otherwise excellent distilling of sense out of a rambling discussion.  The text above may make me appear to be blasé about privacy. I’m not. What I tried to convey was the idea of privacy – which is obviously enough a very legitimate concern – being one of many many obstacles to the free flow of information – information that may help us develop great new treatments.  The broad legal approach of the privacy regulation seems exactly right to me. It seeks to balance legitimate interests. The problem however is that as with all complex bodies of regulation, it gets implemented by people on the ground according to rough rules of thumb.  And they end up foreclosing all sorts of options, even when those options might be incredibly valuable, and even if the options don’t actually promote privacy.

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  3. 3
    Melissa Sweet

    Melissa Sweet

    Just as a point of fact: telemedicine consultations are already being widely used, particularly in rural and regional Queensland and have been for some years. I have interviewed a number of GPs and specialists who have found them useful, for them and their patients. There is also an increasing body of research and evaluation of the use of online therapy for mental health problems. Professor Gavin Andrews and his colleagues at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney have done a lot of work in this area.

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