NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- With new and substantial upgrades in technology and communication, U.S. health care consumers are generally OK with virtual doctor appointments. That's a pretty big deal given the expected shortage of qualified doctors once health care reform is rolled out fully in 2014 and reaching out to a physician by either phone, email or video could become more common. On the professional side, evidence is mounting that a virtual doctor's appointment can be just as effective as being there in flesh and blood. According to a Jan. 14 article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, patients seeking treatment for afflictions such as sinus infections and bladder problems were given a proper and accurate diagnosis by physicians online after patient descriptions and updates to their online medical profiles. A study out Thursday shows that 74% of Americans are "open" to such virtual doctor visits. The study, the Cisco Customer Experience Report, surveyed 1,547 consumers and health care professionals across 10 countries to find that 75% of consumers say they "are comfortable with the idea of communicating with doctors using technology instead of seeing them in person." In addition:
- Cisco (CSCO) says that in China, Russia and Mexico, approximately 75% of consumers "would be comfortable communicating with a specialist using virtual technology (e.g. video chatting, text messaging) for a health condition."
- Another 60% of consumers from Germany, Japan and the U.S. say they are open to being treated by a health care specialist using virtual technology.
- By and large, Cisco adds, health care consumers "will give up anything, including cost, convenience and travel, to be treated at a perceived leading health care provider to gain access to trusted care and expertise."
- Another 25% say they would like health care "reminders" to be made available to them over emails and texts.