If you have a problem with your computer and call the manufacturer's help line, there's a good chance you will end up talking to someone in India.
Well, talking to your doctor might soon be the much the same experience.
Bill Crounse, a medical doctor and worldwide health director for Microsoft Corp., told the Health Care Globalization Summit in Las Vegas this morning that much of our interaction with doctors is "cognitive." That is, it involves little in the way of physical examination, but is mostly an exchange of questions and answers.
As such, he says, there's no reason the patient and the doctor need to be in the same room.
"It makes no difference if my doctor is across the street or half way across the globe," he said.
His branch of Microsoft is developing technologies for doctors to consult with one another and with patients by computer -- especially handheld devices, in hopes of reducing response times.
"What can be done virtually, should be done virtually," Crounce, who has his own blog, told the conference.
Crounce also touched on medical tourism, laying the blame for the industry's growth at the feet of government.
"Ultimately, this is about failure by government, failure to provide care," he said.
"Let's face it, no one would get on an airplane and fly somewhere for medical care if they could get it at home."