Telemedicine, Changing the Future of Health Services

Clinics and hospitals have been using telemedicine to bring the expertise of highly-specialized doctors to their patients – seen in their local facility – for years. The endeavor has been immensely successful but until recently, wasn’t extended to patients in their own homes. Although the benefit was tremendous and could save patients the need to drive several hours or fly to another facility for a consult with a specialist, the potential to create convenient patient experiences that fit harmoniously into busy lives wasn’t fully realized. Here, we’ll explore the demands of today’s patients and how telemedicine and Boston Direct Health are answering the call.

The traditional office visit

Wait time: If you run a Google search for “long wait at the doctor’s office,” there are over 59 million results. Americans wait an average of nearly twenty minutes for each appointment, says one study cited by New York Daily News, and that doesn’t include subsequent wait times when diagnostic tests are ordered. Furthermore, a study conducted by Vitals found that patient wait times have a clear correlation with satisfaction scores; patients with shorter wait times rate their doctors higher than patients with longer wait times. We think it’s fair to say that patients want, expect, and deserve minimal wait times when they schedule their appointments in advance (or even when they schedule their appointments only a few hours prior!).

Commute: The Auto Insurance Center conducted a study that found that the average American spends an entire workweek stuck in traffic every year. In Boston, the majority of workers spend 30-45 minute commuting just one way, which means they spend an hour to an hour-and-a-half in the car each day if they don’t have any other appointments or obligations during the work day. Add in a simple illness that requires medical attention, like a cold or a sinus infection, and you can easily spend half of your work day commuting and waiting to be seen at a traditional doctor’s office.

Time with your physician: A study conducted in late 2017 by Regina Corso Consulting found that 90% of patients say that their relationship with their physician is a critical component of care but only 10% believe they get enough time with their doctor. Health insurance structure today requires physicians to see a great number of patients daily, which limits the provider’s time with each client at traditional healthcare offices that do not operate using the Direct Primary Care model or offer telemedicine.

Convenience: Second only to effective treatment from a doctor they trust, patients – like all consumers – want convenience. They are juggling more responsibilities than ever before. More people are working outside the home than ever before, and more people have “side gigs” than at any other time in history. Patients need to be able to seek treatment for their ailments without dropping the ball anywhere else. With office hours overlapping work hours, complicated appointment scheduling processes, limited to no last-minute appointment availability, and the malaise of going through the motions while ill, traditional office visits are anything but convenient!

How is telemedicine answering patient demands and needs?

Boston Direct Health has answered the patient call by providing telemedicine services to patients right in their own homes, addressing many of patient’s top needs and concerns when it comes to their healthcare:

  • Patients are able to be seen at the time their appointment is scheduled because providers at Boston Direct Health are given more time to see each patient, reducing the risk of long appointments and delayed start times.
  • There is no commute required, so whether patients are at home, in the car, or in their office, they can see the doctor without facing rush hour traffic, taking off time from work, or rescheduling important obligations.
  • By extending appointment times and eliminating the need to commute, telemedicine providers like Boston Direct Health are able to give their physicians more face-to-face time with patients, improving the physician-patient relationship
  • Services are provided in a way that never inconveniences the patient. Patients can schedule in advance or see a doctor on a short notice; they can receive care from virtually anywhere that they’re comfortable.

Telemedicine, when extended directly to the patient in their own home, resolves the leading concerns patients have with their primary care providers, improving health and wellness long-term.

Frequently asked questions about telemedicine

Patients may be hesitant to schedule a telemedicine appointment simply because they have unanswered questions about the service. Here are some of the most frequent questions we answer about telemedicine services:

Which ailments can be treated through telemedicine?

A wide variety of common ailments can be diagnosed and treated through telemedicine, including allergies, bug bites, sore throat, sprains, rashes, pink eye, bladder infections, diarrhea, the common cold, influenza, arthritis, bronchitis, upset stomach, depression, anxiety, cellulitis, sinus infection, yeast infections, and more. The best way to find out if your doctor can treat your condition via telemedicine is to schedule an appointment or call their office. Telemedicine is also a great option for follow-up visits and the management of chronic diseases.

What if the doctor is unable to diagnose me without a physical exam?

Our doctors will always be honest with you when telemedicine isn’t the right option. Boston Direct Health also offers home visits when a physical examination is needed.

Will my insurance cover the visit?

Boston Direct Health is a Direct Primary Care provider, meaning all in-office visits, home visits, and telemedicine appointments are covered by your monthly membership fee. The DPC healthcare model allows our practice to deliver quality care without the arduous process of determining the compatibility of insurance plans or requiring copays and met deductibles.

What if I need lab or diagnostic imaging tests?

Your provider can order those tests, which you can have completed at a time and facility that is convenient for you. The results will be sent to your physician who will decide the best way to review results and determine ongoing care.

To learn more about telemedicine services in the Boston area, contact the friendly and compassionate staff at Boston Direct Health today! Once you establish care with a primary care physician at BDH, you can reach them via text, email, or phone 24 hours a day and schedule telemedicine appointments via Skype and FaceTime.

Wishing you health and wellness,
Dr. Zivich