Telemedicine may seem like a foreign word, but ever since the world has been introduced to social distancing, the use of virtual technology for doctor visits has risen exponentially. Many are finding out that telemedicine offers advantages and conveniences they never knew were available. Even after social distancing becomes a thing of the past, patients may not be willing to give up this newfound way to see the doctor. Here are eight things you might not know about telemedicine:
1. Telemedicine offers easy access to medical care
Telemedicine is an appointment with a medical health professional through a phone call or video conference on a computer, tablet, or phone. By utilizing communication technology, the patient doesn’t have to leave their home or office for the visit. The appointment can be scheduled at a time convenient for the patient. Since all that is needed is a phone connection or internet, telemedicine can effectively overcome geographical and time barriers. While some may prefer an in-person visit, “about 76% of patients care more about access to healthcare than need for human interactions with their healthcare providers”. Telemedicine promotes the accessibility of seeing a provider in a very easy way.
2. Telemedicine maintains patient privacy
During a Telemedicine visit, the phone call or video conference is via a secured HIPAA compliant video conference tool. Being HIPAA compliant ensures that a patient’s personal identifiable information is protected. With modern technology, some discussions or pictures provided to the provider can be stored either in an electronic record, or in the cloud. According to one survey, a majority of patients are comfortable with having their health records stored securely on the cloud. In addition, since the visit doesn’t require the patient to leave the comfort of their own home, no one is aware of the person’s visit with the doctor. (No risk of a neighbor telling all because someone saw someone in that clinic!
3. Telemedicine is convenient for many types of visit
Telemedicine is of great convenience. It can be beneficial for a wide range of people whether it be a busy parent with multiple children, a worker with odd hours, or the elderly with limited mobility. One survey found that 21% of patients believed that the top benefit of telemedicine was not traveling to the doctors. Through telemedicine, they can all sign up for an appointment and never leave their home or workplace. The average national wait time in the doctor’s office is about 18 minutes. Time is not wasted by driving miles to an office, waiting in a crowded waiting room, or even taking time off from work to be seen. Thus, a telemedicine visit is not only convenient, but it’s also efficient with a capital “E”
4. Telemedicine is cheaper than an ER visit
Much cheaper than the ER, and also less expensive than an in-person visit to an Urgent Care or Primary Care provider. One study found that the average cost of a telemedicine visit was $126 cheaper than an in-person visit. Another study found telemedicine to be significantly cheaper than an ER visit with cost savings of over a thousand dollars. Additionally, many insurances including Medicare (under some circumstances) reimburse at the same rate as in-person visits. Telemedicine can have a significant impact on patients’ medical expenditures.
5. Telemedicine can provide numerous services, including changing or adding prescriptions
Telemedicine can’t replace all visits to the doctor’s office. Sometimes, an in-person meeting and a physical examination are the only proper way to diagnose and treat a condition. But telemedicine can sure help with a long list of problems, ranging from the common cold to urinary tract infections. In addition, telemedicine can be used to provide a counseling session on a new medication, a checkup for a chronic condition, or a discussion of recent lab results. Any new prescription or change in therapy can be sent to the pharmacy electronically. According to recent statistics, 60% of patients’ chief complaints were resolved with a single prescription after the telemedicine visit.
6. Telemedicine can limit the patient’s exposure to other illness
Since a telemedicine visit is performed through other communication tools, it limits the patient’s exposure in public. Not only does it protect the patient from other illnesses in a waiting room (that’s why ZüpMed doesn’t even have a waiting room), but it also prevents a patient’s illness from potentially spreading to others. Therefore, telemedicine makes sense whenever infection is a concern, protecting not only the patient, but also the general public.
7. Telemedicine can usually resolve most problems in one visit
A Medicare sponsored feasibility study anticipated that 83% of conditions could be resolved through a single telemedicine visit. Follow-up care wasn’t required for the majority of patients, implying that the majority of the time a telemedicine visit is effective in resolving the patient’s conditions. Alternatively, patients could utilize telemedicine to promptly answer any lingering follow-up questions. In a survey on telemedicine implementation, many healthcare executives support telemedicine to improve their quality of care. Telemedicine allows providers to have multiple touchpoints with the patients, allowing the patient to get questions answered and to fill in any gaps in the patient’s care. So, quality of care is even further improved!
8. Telemedicine increases the patient’s involvement in their treatment
Another benefit of telemedicine is that it can allow the patient to have more interaction and be more involved in their treatment. One study showed that about 53% of patients felt somewhat or significantly involved in their treatment decisions through telemedicine. The study suggests that telemedicine creates an environment to allow the patient to be more involved, possibly because they are more comfortable in their own “space”. Patients being involved in their treatment can improve outcomes and their experience. The accessibility of telemedicine can help to increase the patient’s involvement in treatment.
Telemedicine in Memphis
Our telemedicine service, ZüpMed Virtual®, is perfect if you have a relatively simple complaint and your schedule or circumstances make it difficult for a trip to our Laurelwood walk-in clinic. If you can make a call, you can reach out with a medical question from almost anywhere*! Simply request a ZüpMed Virtual® visit by calling us at 901-701-7010 or by online scheduling from our website.
*Regulations restrict our practice of medicine outside the state of Tennessee to ZüpMed members only.