Technology allows us access to a wealth of information on a 24/7 basis and telemedicine extends that reach to include real-time communication with health care professionals. Telemedicine is growing regarding reach and usage, making general health care and specialty services easier to access while saving money.
What Telemedicine Means
- Improved access to medical specialists and other providers to people in remote or rural areas.
- Increased speed at which health care services are accessed, reducing wait times and increasing positive outcomes.
- Reduced hospital readmissions due to improved patient follow-through of care plans due to case manager remote follow-up or connected medical devices.
- Improved monitoring of chronic conditions and administration of preventative services.
Smartphones and medical apps have created a process known as diagnosis by selfie, and it can be effective in non-life threatening situations. You take a photo of your rash, lump or bump and transmit it via an app for physician or nurse practitioner diagnosis. They will recommend a treatment and have a prescription sent to your pharmacist if needed. You don't need to include a photograph to use an app and receive immediate medical advice and most are available 24/7. There are several highly rated health care apps, and all of them are free to download on either an iPhone or Android, although some have fees comparable to a co-pay when you confer with the doctor.
Telemedicine and Physician Visits
For people who live in remote areas or want to meet with a specialist, telemedicine systems allow you to schedule an appointment and receive your consultation from the comfort and privacy of your home. Using video conferencing tools, you can have a face-to-face meeting with your doctor, discuss your medical needs, receive copies of all reports, and have prescriptions sent to your preferred pharmacy.
- Teledoc which provides 24/7 access to US board certified physicians to address a variety of medical concerns.
- Meadow MD which provides confidential physician evaluations for medical marijuana usage.
- MD Live which is staffed 365 days a year, 24 hours a day by board-certified physicians, pediatricians and psychologists to address a wide range of physical and emotional issues.
Monitoring Chronic Conditions
- Heart rhythms
- Calorie intake and burn
- Physical activity levels
Requirements and Reimbursement
A growing number of insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, offer coverage for telemedicine services as well as the technologies required to support it. Coverage varies by state as well as policy, and you will need to check with your provider to determine what is allowed.
- A computer with a camera and microphone
- A reliable Internet connection
- A valid government issued photo ID, insurance card or other relevant documentation.
Telemedicine is not a new branch of medical care but a new way to deliver traditional services. Physician visits and chronic care management are now delivered more effectively and with a better follow-through which results in improved outcomes and patient satisfaction. Insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid embrace this cost saving system, and coverage is expanding for these services.