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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

The Promise and Peril of Silicon Valley Medicine

The COVID-19 crisis has fast-tracked change in the delivery of health services though diagnosis and treatment recommendations via audio-video have existed in a more primitive fashion for decades. It is thus unsurprising that start-ups are bolstering their product with the promise of near instant service. Have a headache/backache/sinus problem/fever? they ask. There's no need to worry! For a small sum per month you can consult a doctor as often and whenever you wish, change doctors at your whim, all being top notch! Yeah…


My objection is not that these services are delivered via audio-video since the accessing of health services without travel is a welcome development. But will these companies meet their vow with sufficient quality staff? How many doctors will sit before their computer on a 24/7 basis, and how low must their wages be to assure the company a healthy profit?


The rudiments of this service have long been provided by health insurers using nurses and telephones. Can the only thing that these startups are adding is killer advertising? Hmm…now that would be a cynical judgment.


Moreover, the major public health crises derive from habits. The choices of poor diet, alcohol and substance abuse, and unhealthy lifestyle are not easily changed without lengthy contact with one clinician. But we must be modern, mustn't we?

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