"We teach doctors how to best use the technology and manipulate it," Hale says. "The whole key is training. Physicians need to understand that this is a relationship, and once they're reminded this is not a video visit, but a patient visit, it becomes better after about four to five visits."
Hale is hopeful that telemedicine is a ticket out the fee-for-service model, but he doesn't think that it will lead to "Stepford doctors practicing medicine over television."
"I think that telemedicine as a whole is augmentation not replacement," he says. "It will change it in a fashion that will allow for much greater access to care. This is a possible solution to our quality and cost issues, but only if it's used to maintain the relationship between caregivers and patients by providing access to care that they didn't have before."