Chances are, you’ve Googled your symptoms when you’re not feeling well, or you’ve refilled your prescription through your pharmacy’s app. It could even be possible that you’ve worked with your healthcare provider to transfer your records electronically from one doctor to another. If so, you’ve participated in the growing industry of telehealth.
Chiron Health defines telemedicine as a way to “evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using telecommunications technology.” What started in the 1950s as a way for hospitals to share information back and forth via telephone, telemedicine has grown to become an essential part of our healthcare system.
The benefits of telemedicine are not only convenient but in some cases, they are lifesaving. Best used in conjunction with traditional healthcare, this tech-based style of medicine gives patients access to information and services faster, resulting in better medical outcomes and faster recovery by keeping physicians, specialists, patients, and family caregivers all on the same page.
How to save time and money with telemedicine
In a 2106 HealthMine survey of 500 insured, tech-savvy consumers, it was found that 93% of people surveyed agree the use of telemedicine has lowered their healthcare costs.
Consider the steps to retrieving prescriptions in the traditional medicine system:
First, you need to find time to call the doctor’s office and coordinate your schedules to solidify an appointment. Depending on your doctor’s patient load, that could take weeks or even months. Then, depending on the circumstances, you may even need to take the time off of work or find childcare so you can sit for what seems like forever in a waiting room until the doctor is ready to see you. You’ve been waiting to get a doctors advice on your symptoms for weeks now, but they just write off your health concerns in an effort to quickly turn their room over to the next patient, leaving your questions unanswered. Not to mention having to pay an inconvenient copay before you wait for the full bill to come in the mail.
By the end of this process, you could potentially wait weeks to get the medications you need if your insurance requires prior authorization, let alone spend an arm and a leg on fees and co-pays, especially if you’re experiencing a lapse in insurance.
This is where telemedicine comes in.
Imagine being able to get the prescriptions you need delivered right to your door while mitigating all of the steps listed above? Telemedicine companies are beginning to close this gap to equal, convenient, and affordable access to medicines for all.
Many online services include a doctor’s guidance at no additional cost. Checkups with these doctors typically occur over the phone, video chat, or via email, helping you to feel more comfortable bringing up health concerns you may have been too embarrassed to mention before. For example, women can now purchase medication for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) online, like Addyi for low sex drive. Additionally, if you’ve been suffering from depression or anxiety and have felt too uncomfortable to make a counseling appointment, you can now have counseling sessions with a licensed counselor from the comfort of your own living room via video chat apps like Talkspace.
Is telemedicine for you and your family?
Though there are benefits for everyone, you and your family may particularly benefit from telehealth if you are currently without insurance or are experiencing high copays and deductibles as many telemedicine services provide the medication you need at a low, flat rate. Additionally, telehealth is meant for you if you find that your schedule is extremely hectic, if you live in rural areas far from doctors offices or pharmacies, or if you are ill or disabled and have difficulties with transportation.
Telemedicine is an excellent supplement to regular physicals and exams, and is a convenient option for those who want to maintain their health care on their own time and budget.