Healthcare is no longer limited to the doctor’s office. In today’s technology-rich world, more patients are getting the care they need in new ways. Today, it’s all about leveraging technology’s capabilities so that patients can easily communicate with doctors and other medical providers. One instance of where technology in healthcare is becoming the norm is with telemedicine. Telemedicine refers to how doctors and medical providers communicate with patients electronically to improve the patient’s health.
Think about it like this: you wake up in the morning with what feels like a nasty cold. You can’t imagine getting an appointment with your doctor on such short notice and you surely don’t want get out of bed to drive there. Now you have the ability with certain providers to communicate with your doctors via voice and video chatting.
According to Gary Capistrant, senior director of public policy at the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), “It’s hard to quantify how many doctors now use webcams in their practices, because no agency tracks or requires doctors to report webcam use.” But, it’s apparent that many facilities are starting to test the waters.
John Shufeldt, MD and CEO of MeMD, states that telemedicine benefits patients by offering convenience, accessibility, transparency and affordability. Dr. Sufeldt notes, “With telemedicine, the doctor comes to you. This allows you to communicate with your medical provider from your home, office or even when traveling ”
What Can Telemedicine Treat?
According to our friends and partners at MeMD, they use telemedicine to treat minor aliments including:
- Bites and Stings
- Flu symptoms
- Sinus infection
- Sprains and strains
- Urinary tract infections
Doctors and healthcare providers also use telemedicine to prescribe medications to their patients, but most will not prescribe or refill narcotic medications.
Want to Learn More?
Telemedicine can be an affordable way for patients to seek care—especially if the patient lacks insurance. At present, online medical visits are not universally covered by insurance. There is no single widely accepted standard for private payers to reimburse telemedicine visits. Some insurance companies value the benefits of telehealth and will reimburse a wide variety of services. Others have yet to develop comprehensive reimbursement policies, so payment for telehealth may require prior approval. That being said our partners at MeMD and many other services have purposely keep the cost of a visit with one of their providers lower than most co-pays.
If you want to know more about telemedicine, Dr. Sufeldt suggests, “Experience telemedicine for yourself.” Dr. Sufeldt adds that most users are initially skeptical about the level of care that can be provided virtually, but then report that they are more satisfied with our healthcare option compared to alternatives they have experienced in the past.