Friday, July 30, 2004

Long Distance Medicine

It's nice to see that even though I am on vacation in Banff, Canada, I am still getting requests for appointments. 4 this week so far (one by email). Because of the distance, however, it's been a little trickier in calling people back and scheduling appointments.

First of all, I changed my answering machine message to note that I will be out of the office for the entire week, and that I would be returning on Monday, August 2nd. If they needed to be seen before then, I gave them the names and phone numbers of two local FPs who agreed to let me post their info. Since I've only seen about 50 patients, I told them it was unlikely they would get a call from one of my established patients. And I threw in the bit about, "If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911." Lastly I gave my cellphone number for anyone who really wants to get a hold of me, otherwise they could just leave a voice message.

Cellphone reception hasn't been bad, considering we're high in the Rockies. But for some reason, my cellphone often switched over to voicemail before I had a chance to answer it. The only calls I got were from a local magazine asking to verify the size of an ad I was placing, and a patient who was returning my call.

Internet access has been more difficult. At first, we were led to believe that there was free internet access in our hotel room, but that wasn't the case. They charge $15 (Canadian) for 1 hour of laptop hookup to the internet, which is cheaper than $20 for using one of their computers. After being spoiled with wireless access throughout our house, my wife and I find it a little inconvenient to trek downstairs just to access our email. It's still a heckuva lot cheaper than using our dialup service. The closest phone access is in Spokane, WA. While I was able to dialup and connect from our hotel room, the 45 minutes I connected ended up costing $57 in hotel long distance access fees. Ouch!

And for some reason, I'm not able to send outgoing email even though I can receive it. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that I'm trying to access my ISPs email servers which I'm not connected on my ISPs network. So to send outgoing email, I have to use a web-based email server, like Yahoo or Hotmail.

My dream is to someday get an iSight web camera and be able to see and hear people from long distance, like a videophone, and be able to have a long distance doctor's visit that I can still charge for. That would be real long distance medicine.