Virtual docs set up in online worlds

For most teenagers, there’s nothing more mortifying than talking to an adult about sex (or a million other health issues, for that matter). So, with teens now spending more time online, here’s something that could help: Spanish health authorities have launched a virtual “medical clinic” in Second Life, a popular online world, The Guardian reports. In a “consulting room” online, real docs will log on to give medical advice to anonymous patients. They’ll be able to address such wide-ranging subjects as dermatology and psychology, thanks to webcams.

“This is a way to talk about [teenagers’] doubts about taking drugs or sexual relations which they cannot do in a traditional consultation,” Dr. Rosario Jimènez, who’ll be online up to four hours a week dolling out advice, told the paper.

While it sounds quite novel, this idea isn’t entirely new; Second Life, for example, already has at least one mental health clinic. And virtual clinics aren’t a far cry from phone counselling services, which have been around forever. One question though. When you step into a virtual doctor’s office, how do you make sure that the avatar in a white lab coat is a real medical professional, and not just some dude in his basement?

Virtual Doctor