Forget waiting in line outside clinics, now get diagnosed sitting at home

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SummaryDays of sitting in a doctor's waiting room next to sick people is set to become a thing of the past.

The days of sitting in a doctor's waiting room next to sick people is set to become a thing of the past, as technology researchers believe it will soon be common to receive a virtual diagnosis from the comfort of your own home.

And if you have to see a GP in person, you won't be at the doctor's surgery for long.

Online services, such as the website 1stavailable, are doing for the medical profession what Wotif did for the hotel industry, by letting people book a doctor's time online, News.com.au reported.

"It's quite an exciting stage - the world's about to change. We'll be able to collaboratively manage our health. There won't be waiting rooms full of people anymore. He or her will come to you, or you'll have a very clearly defined time slot if you need to have a human interaction with someone," Professor Jeffrey Soar, chair of Human Centred Technology Innovation at the University of Southern Queensland said.

He said that advances in robotics and home appliances, similar to the capabilities of LG's internet-capable refrigerator, will have a profound impact on our lives.

Families will be able to tap into data from household appliances to check elderly relatives are OK.

For example, your grandfather's refrigerator could inform the family if he has no food in the house.

That's not all. Korean robots have been designed to feed the sick, Prof Soar said, and medicine cabinets that can instruct on what pills to take are on their way.

Teams at the University of Technology, Sydney, have even designed a wheelchair that can be controlled entirely by thought.

Virtual treatments by doctors are predicted to grow substantially, with a recent industry association report predicting worldwide use of 'telehealth' services will grow sixfold over the next four years.

Dr Steve Hambleton, president of the Australian Medical Association, said the telehealth programs were particularly suited for skin doctors, as well as cancer and eye specialists.

Skin specialists (dermatologists) – who have notoriously lengthy waiting lists which sometime extend up to a year - have been on the telehealth bandwagon for awhile.

The Tele-Derm program ran by the Australian College of Rural and Regional Medicine has allowed patients to skip waiting lists for the past nine years.

GPs refer images and descriptions of patient skin conditions to an accredited dermatologist for diagnosis.

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