Telemedicine is revolutionizing the way people are getting care. With telemedicine, not only are people getting the help they need faster, but they’re also saving money in the process. It even helps save lives and is quickly proving itself to be a major component in the evolution of the physician-patient relationship.
Increased Access to Care
Healthcare is consistently one of the biggest hot button issues in the US, and with good reason. 44 million people are without health insurance, and 38 more million have inadequate care. What’s worse: many Americans that do have insurance still find themselves struggling to pay for care. For instance, most of us in the earlier scenario would go to urgent care and may end up spending hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars to get well because they couldn’t wait to be seen by their doctor.
With telemedicine, you can call or FaceTime a physician who can help you based on your symptoms and medical history. With direct primary care providers – Boston Direct Health included – you can get same day or next day help and get healthier, faster.
Telemedicine is especially helpful in cities with excessively long wait times and for people who live in rural areas, where the trip doctors could take an entire afternoon. It’s no wonder that the telehealth industry is predicted to expand from $38 billion today to $130 billion by 2025!
To put it simply, telemedicine can benefit everyone who gets sick. Here are a few examples of how:
Chronic Conditions Become More Manageable
60% of US adults have a chronic disease – and 40% of them have two or more. Common chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, and depression. Telemedicine you help you with self-manage your condition. By arranging something as simple as a three-minute routine phone or video call, patients are encouraged to take their medications, schedule regular follow-ups, and refill their prescriptions.
During these regular health checkups, patients have the opportunity to tell their physicians about any changes or abnormalities. This allows physicians to fix potential problems early on, reducing your likelihood of falling ill by helping you get the care you need.
Risk of Heart Disease Decreases
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the US, killing an average of 610,000 every year (approximately one in four deaths). At-risk patients often have to change their lifestyles in order to reduce their chances of getting heart disease. This might include: losing weight, quitting smoking, drug treatments, and diet and exercise. Frequent doctor visits can be time-consuming and difficult for you – especially if you live far away from your primary care provider. With telemedicine, you can have these regular visits while in the comfort of your own home, and your physician can check on your progress.
Mental Health Consultations Made Easier
Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and hyperactivity can be very difficult to live with. Some days you might not even want to get out of bed, much less leave your house. Telemedicine allows you to communicate with your doctor so that you can talk through your condition and get the care you need.
Rehab at Home
If you’re discharged after surgery or another life-changing event, oftentimes your rehabilitation is just starting. If your condition has physically or mentally impaired you, routine trips to your primary care physician can be really hard. Telemedicine technology provides patients with the resources they need so that they can continue their journey to wellness. Regular check-ins have patients showing doctors a patients’ physical process (e.g. pedometer readings, journaling). Online group therapy sessions also allow for patients to connect with others who are also on their road to recovery.
There’s no shortage of telemedicine apps available to download. Some promise that you can speak with an available physician in 15 minutes or less after putting in your information.
For example, when you download MDLive, you can upload medical documents and health records including:
- Medications you’re taking
- Pre-existing conditions
- Procedures you’ve had done
- Family history
- Behavioral history
- Your provider(s)
Having access to this information gives the physician who will be speaking with you an insight into your past. Through this, they can more accurately diagnose what might be ailing you.
Other telemedicine apps include Lemonaid, Express Care Virtual, LiveHealth Online Mobile, Amwell, and Babylon: NHS Healthcare 24/7. Depending on which app you use, the costs will vary. Be sure to do your research before selecting one, if you choose to go this route.
Telehealth and Direct Primary Care
When it comes to telemedicine, direct primary care is the best of both worlds. Because these specialized physicians only have several hundred patients as opposed to the 2,500-3,000 that traditional doctors see on average, they are more available to communicate via video, phone, or by other means. Boston Direct Health, in particular, offers 24-hour access to your physician by phone and can communicate via Skype and FaceTime. These physicians also have the time to talk to their patients, unlike most traditional physicians whose time is limited.
While telemedicine apps are an affordable alternative, odds are that you won’t have a prior relationship with the physician you’re seeing. The information that they have to go on is what you’re providing, and without actually having physical face-to-face communication beforehand, there’s going to be an increased level of guesswork in their diagnoses. Because of your ongoing physician-patient relationship, your direct primary care doctor will be able to give you more accurate care. You definitely get what you pay for.