Have you heard of telemedicine – or as it’s also sometimes called, telehealth?
A telemedicine service allows doctors and patients to have virtual appointments instead of in-person appointments at the physician’s clinic.
Telemedicine appointments work very much like a FaceTime or Skype video call between a doctor and patient.
You or anyone in your family can schedule a telemedicine appointment online and usually be on a video call with a real doctor in a less than an hour.
Just as with an in-person appointment, you consult with a doctor then she or he can write a prescription or advise you to follow up with a specialist if needed.
Not only are telemedicine appointments convenient, they also are helping to solve healthcare access problems while driving down costs for both patients and doctors.
There are three primary ways your family can typically take advantage of telemedicine.
- Some businesses are offering telemedicine packages to employees as inexpensive add ons or supplements to existing benefits.
- A few health insurance providers are including telemedicine access as a built-in component of their health insurance plans.
- You can purchase a telemedicine package directly from various telemedicine providers.
You might be worried that a telemedicine video chat with a doctor could be a waste of your time or ineffective from a cost perspective.
But the American Medical Association (AMA) says that about 70% of in-person doctor’s appointments can be handled over the phone and even that around 50% of emergency room visits are actually non-emergencies that could be resolved online if the patent had access to telemedicine.
Large employers are also discovering that they can save more than $1,000 per year for the average four-person family covered under a plan that includes telemedicine.
How Could Telemedicine Help Your Family?
- Telemedicine providers give you video or phone conferences with a board-certified doctor who is licensed in your state and can therefor legally write you prescriptions.
- Stay in bed when you’re sick. The worst time to drag yourself or kids out of the house is when someone is sick. Telemedicine lets you stay home while speaking to a doctor.
- Most telemedicine companies offer both Spanish and English speaking doctors so language barriers and translation issues are non existent.
- With telemedicine, you get near immediate help from a doctor without filling out forms and sitting in a waiting room surrounded by other sick people.
- When you look at post telemedicine sessions, we see a decrease in resists and follow up emergency room visits compared to in-person appointments.
- Telemedicine saves you money by also helping doctors save money. Studies have shown that at least 30% of in-person appointments goes to cover non-medical related overhead on buildings, support staff, etc.