Nowadays there is an app for everything. Literally everything. There are apps that bring food to your doorstop, track your sleeping patterns, and more relevantly- replace your visits to the doctor.
Applications such as Doctor on Demand and MDLive provide online virtual doctors that give you healthcare advice and attention through video conferencing.
These apps definitely have their positives: they provide higher accessibility to medical advice to those who may not have time to go to the office, they reduce wait times, and they provide the convenience of be able to sit at your home to seek advice. However, telehealth apps have been experiencing a rather odd sort of problem in video conferences.
Patients have been flashing the doctors with full frontal nude pictures.
There have been reports of “periods where it was happening to some of our doctors once a week,” said Bob Kocher, an investor in Doctor on Demand. It is difficult to resolve this issue since the sign-up process is not one that is extremely in depth. To join telehealth, patients are asked to input their personal data and health insurance; however, these are easy to fake and evade by using aliases.
This odd issue has proven challenging to fix due to the use of these aliases and the ability to “hide” behind the screen. As Ian Tong, Doctor on Demand’s chief medical officer stated, “One of the challenges was in blocking certain individuals, if they used false information.” They
have tried to cancel memberships of known flashers and even attempted to “connect these people to mental health support.” However, these profane acts have degraded the reputation of telehealth and injured the campaigns for free trials.
Although these acts are extremely inappropriate, many believe that this is just a sign of the internet and how it has evolved into a platform for unsuitable behavior. The Internet has given people the ability to mask their identities, hide behind their computer or mobile screen, and commit these profane acts without a sense of consequence or regret.
MD Live’s CEO, Randy Parker, commented that it is the promise of anonymity that pushes users to take these nudes.
Hill Ferguson, CEO of Doctor On Demand. Image source: Business Wire
Unfortunately, nudes and sexting is not uncommon on social media in our generation. There has been an innumerable amount of cases where ‘sexts’ have been sent with no consent from the receiver. For example, Snapchat, a booming app in the market is known to be a platform for this kind of behavior.
Of course, with any app, like Snapchat or Facebook, not all users use these platforms for profanity.
Not only does this case emphasize the issue of bringing healthcare to the online platform, but it also brings up the question of privacy. Since these platforms are under medical privacy laws, known as HIPAA, the patient’s medical information is under guaranteed protection. However, bringing this information to the Internet raises a myriad of challenges regarding patient information privacy and the ability to fully secure data online.
This current flow of inappropriate behavior from telehealth users has caused many companies to question their platforms and caused doctors to bring up the issue of transitioning from an office to the Internet. These apps are working to remedy this unusual issue but until then, doctors employed by these apps must filter through the nude pictures and focus on helping the patients who need and properly use telehealth.
Source: Farr C. Patients are flashing doctors in video medicine apps, and it's a problem. CNBC.