If you thought Skype and Facetime were a big deal, telemedicine will blow your mind. Americans spent $3.2 trillion on healthcare in 2015, and that figure is predicted to rise at a rate of 5.6% per year for the next ten years. However, thanks to the advancement of technology, physicians and medical professionals now have a less costly way to see patients without having them physically visit the office or emergency room.
Yes, visits to an urgent care center can cost less than an emergency room visit, but telemedicine is sometimes an even more affordable option for routine and non-emergency care. This option allows you to seek medical assistance remotely from your home or office, using your tablet, computer or phone to email and video-chat with your provider, rather than visiting them in person. It was originally devised as an option to provide health care to patients who resided in remote areas without adequate access to medical facilities or care. Although telemedicine is still used for this reason, it has also grown into a cost-effective and convenient way to provide patient care.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Convenient Care for Patients: The ability to schedule an online visit with a medical professional eliminates the lengthy wait times in a crowded room filled with sick patients. Patients are now able to speak with their doctor in a convenient location of their choice. This is especially beneficial for elderly patients, and people living with limited mobility who require frequent checkups.
Increased Quality Care: Telemedicine allows for straightforward engagement amongst patients and physicians while improving the quality of care. Patients have a more convenient way to contact their doctors with questions or concerns regarding their health. This option also allows for easier follow-up appointments, especially when doctors can monitor their patient’s heart rate remotely after their initial appointment.
Decreased Healthcare Costs: The U.S spends more on healthcare every year than any other developed nation in the world. 52% of healthcare spending in 2015 was attributed to hospital care and physician and clinical services alone. Telemedicine offers a more cost-effective alternative by reducing unnecessary doctor and emergency room visits.
Common Telemedicine-Treated Conditions
Although Telemedicine is used to treat many health-related conditions, this form of medical care is not for urgent cases.
If you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction, chest pain, profuse bleeding, or any other potentially life-threatening problems, you should go to the closest ER immediately.
According to liveClinic, these health conditions can commonly be treated via telemedicine:
- Ankle and Arm Sprains
- Arthritic Pain
- Bladder Infections
- Colds and Flu
- Insect Bites
- Rashes and Skin Inflammations
- Respiratory Infections
- Sore Throats
- Stomach Pain
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Sports Injuries
Although these conditions can be treated via telemedicine, it’s essential to provide your doctor with as much information as possible to help him/her determine whether an in-person visit is warranted. If you’re experiencing a life-threatening emergency, or are uncertain of the severity, please do not hesitate to call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.
Garnett-Powers & Associates offers several telemedicine options in select medical plans. Get more familiar with our health plans.