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5 Benefits of Telemedicine

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Chances are, you are familiar with social communication mobile apps such as FaceTime, SnapChat, WhatsApp or Skype, but are you aware that many people are now utilizing this technology to speak to medical professionals about their health concerns from the comforts of their own home?

Telemedicine, as it stands today, has been in existence for over ten years, being born largely out of the federal government’s $25 billion investment in 2009 toward healthcare information technology. 

The Affordable Care Act of 2012 and the corresponding mandates for physician practices to move to electronic health record keeping, further facilitated the seemless sharing of healthcare data.  This served to virtually (pun intended) throw the door wide open for telemedicine solutions to thrive, especially as smartphones and internet-enabled tablet prevalence simultaneously sky-rocketed.  Today, it’s estimated that over 90% of the nation has a smartphone or other internet enabled device.

More than likely, whether you realize it or not, your health insurance plan provides you access to telehealth medical services.  Most commercial group insurance programs offer this benefit to all fully insured clients and most self funded employers have also embraced the technology, making it available to their employees as well.  So how about you, have you considered some of the benefits of accessing medical care through a live conversation with a medical professional on your phone, tablet or personal computing device of choice?  The following are five of the benefits often associated with utilizing telemedicine benefits:

5 Benefits of Telemedicine

Price

Telemedicine is generally half the cost of a regular physician office visit, a quarter the cost of an urgent care visit, and less than 5% the cost of an emergency room visit.  What does this mean for you?  It means you could save upwards of $2,000 for consulting with a telehealth provider rather than an emergency room physician for those severe headaches, back pain or flu symptoms.

Immediate Care

There is no need to wait for an appointment with your doctor as telemedicine visits are generally available immediately.  Further, through the widespread adoption of electronic medical records, there is a high likelihood that the telehealth doctor you connect with would have access to your medical history as well as share the notes from your call electronically with your primary care physician.

Saved Time

Telemedicine saves you the time you would have typically spent in the waiting room as well as commuting to and from your appointment. The time spent using telemedicine is typically 50-75% less than a traditional visit to a physician.  When you consider the distance that many in rural communities have to travel to meet with a physician, the benefit is even greater.

Safety

Telemedicine is a great way to keep others from catching anything you’ve got or yourself catching what they’ve got as doctor’s office, urgent care and emergency room settings invariably collect and share some measure of the germs of those coming through their doors faster than they can sanitze.  

Uncertainty

How many times have you been on the fence as to whether the symptoms you or a loved one were facing were viral or bacterial, or whether or not an injury or a fall was severe enough to warrant medical treatment?  Telemedicine, in addition to any 24/7 nurse call line provided by your insurance carrier, is an excellent way to get a professional opinion without a significant financial and time investment.

When to Use Telehealth

While telemedicine is no replacement for emergency medical treatment, it should be your first recourse for ailmants such as the following:

Medical Symptoms

Allergies

Cold & Flu Symptoms

Sinus Infections

Joint Aches & Pains

Nausea & Vomiting

Sunburn

Earache

Ear Infections

Pink Eye

Rashes

Urinary Tract Infections

Headache

Rashes

Constipation

Fever

Behavioral Health Symptoms

Depression

Panic Disorders

Eating Disorders

Postpartum Depression

Addiction

Bipolar Conditions

Grief & Loss

Life Changes

Relationship Issues

Trauma & Stress

Telehealth – For Your Health

Telemedicine is only going to continue to grow in prevalence, and with the list of benefits detailed above, that’s a great thing!  Telehealth is rapidly lowering if not removing many of the traditional barriers to healthcare that many have experienced due to cost, transportation limitations, or too few physician options in close proximity to them.  How about you?  Have you registered for telemedicine through your health insurance plan?  Don’t forget to keep it in mind the next time you are are considering medical care!  For those who have not yet completed the free registration through your health insurance carrier’s website, we have highlighted some of our client’s carrier telemedicine portals below so that you can register now!  

About the Author

Ben Lewis resides with his wife and four kids in Rochester, NY where he has lived since coming to Rochester for college in 2001.  After completing his Bachelors of Science in Mathematics at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2005, Ben went on to work at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield where he developed insurance rates for large fully insured and self funded employers.  During these years Ben also obtained his MBA in Finance from RIT.   With industry experience coming from a variety of rolls in finance, benefits consulting, marketing and even a brief stint as an HR Benefits Manager, Ben joined Consiliarium Group as a partner in April, 2019.  Brought on as the Strategic Healthcare Practice Leader, Ben’s responsibilities include heading up the Self Funded business unit, vetting emerging healthcare technology or vendor solutions, and championing the marketing efforts at Consiliarium.  

Ben’s ambition is to help employers empower individuals to pursue personal well-being by working with HR and Finance teams to employ smart, sustainable benefit solutions that meet individuals where they are at and simplify the journey for where they want to go.  When individuals are informed and empowered to become better consumers of healthcare, the results make it a win for everyone.

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