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Telemedicine

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the delivery of healthcare services from a healthcare provider connected over the telephone with a patient who needs treatment. The appointment, diagnosis and treatment plan are all discussed during the appointment, which can be conducted via phone call or video chat.

Telemedicine is also referred to as telehealth because more and more doctors, nurses and patients are using the service for services beyond medical appointments but for physical therapy, mental health treatment and more.

How is telemedicine impacting healthcare and insurance

As technology advances, telemedicine and telehealth services are poised to transform the way many of us receive healthcare. By receiving non-emergency medical care over the phone, many of us can save time and money that would otherwise be spent setting up appointments, commuting and actually meeting with a doctor. We can log on to our telemedicine provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and seek an appointment with a physician right away. Even better, for routine matters that require a prescription, the physician can call the prescription into the pharmacy of choice for pick up.

How Do I Talk to A Doctor?

Typically, the patient (or legal guardian) will request an appointment with the telemedicine provider and then a physician will call the patient. The doctor and patient will discuss the symptoms and the doctor will ask many questions about the symptoms and treatment already received. Once the physician has made a conclusion about the diagnosis, they will communicate their decision and if a prescription is required, they may order a prescription from the pharmacy of the patient’s choice.

What Conditions Does Telemedicine Treat?

There is a surprising amount of conditions that can be treated via telemedicine. It can be a quick and effective way to handle routine illnesses like a cold or flu, sinus or bacterial infections, conjunctivitis (pink eye), yeast infections, bladder infections and more. Telehealth professionals can treat patients for allergies, skin infections, rashes, moles, acid reflux, and arthritis as well. In addition, mental health conditions such as depression, grief, anxiety, stress and more are frequently treated through telehealth providers.

It is important to remember that telemedicine does not cover emergency situations like heart attack, stroke, accidents or injuries. For emergency situations, review your health insurance network options and consider whether you should go to urgent care or the emergency room.

Who Uses Telemedicine?

The people who benefit the most from telemedicine and telehealth appointments are those who are not able to go into a doctor’s office and require routine care that can be handled by a telemedicine provider.

Telemedicine is particularly helpful to those who are pressed for time. For example, workers who cannot afford to take time off for a doctor’s office visit can call a telemedicine provider and resolve routine health matters over the phone at a time they prefer.

Approximately 20% of U.S. residents live in rural areas and travel great distances to see a doctor. Because it can take so much time to travel and receive the routine care they need, many of these patients go without care. The U.S. government is so concerned about this issue that the Federal Communications Commission is spending $100,000,000 to expand access to telemedicine to rural areas.

How Much Does Telemedicine Cost?

Although each telemedicine program is a little bit different, you can expect to pay a monthly fee that starts at $12.95 per month for an individual and slightly more for a family plan. There is usually a cost for each telephone appointment which ranges from $20-$40. Telemedicine is not insurance so any costs from the telemedicine will not apply toward the deductible or be discounted by a health insurance network.

Can I Submit My Telemedicine Bill to My Insurance Company?

Unfortunately, telemedicine and telehealth services are not typically covered by insurance. Look closely at your insurance policy to determine if it covers telemedicine or telehealth. If you can’t find out, feel free to call their customer service number to see if this service is covered.

Can Online Doctors Use Facetime?

While most telemedicine is conducted over either a mobile phone or landline, telemedicine is evolving to allow for video use, too. Some telehealth providers are video-capable and can conduct the appointment from Skype, Facetime and other online video applications.

There are certain uses for video appointments that may be particularly helpful. For example, physical therapists can demonstrate real-time exercises and techniques much better via video than they would be able to over an audio-only call. Some telehealth providers are video-capable and can conduct the appointment from video applications so long as they are HIPAA (health privacy protection laws) compliant. If you’re worried, always ask your provider, whose responsibility it is to ensure whichever platform being used, Zoom, FaceTime, Skype etc., maintains the privacy of your health.

How Can I Buy Telemedicine?

Telemedicine can be purchased online at www.healthinsurance.com or through other sites that sell telemedicine. If you have insurance from your employer, check to see if your employer’s plan provides you with telemedicine services. If not, there are many affordable options available. If you are looking for a telemedicine plan, some things to think about are the types of services included. Some telemedicine providers focus on routine medical appointments while others offer more services like physical therapy, diabetes counseling, mental health, dialysis counseling and more. Review the doctors and providers listed to determine if they fit any specialist needs that may arise.

How Does A Telehealth Provider Get Doctors?

Like any other business, telemedicine and telehealth providers recruit doctors, nurses and practitioners who they believe have the skills and training to provide the best outcomes for the patients.

Does My Doctor Use Telemedicine?

The best way to know if your doctor uses telemedicine is to call their office and ask. Another way to find out which doctors are in the telemedicine network is to contact the telemedicine provider and either look up the doctors online or call in and ask. Many times, the doctors will vary with a telemedicine provider because they are scheduling doctors to cover peak and non-peak hours for appointments. As a result, the doctors typically do not have standard hours but work around the needs of consumers as determined by the telemedicine provider.

Is Telemedicine Popular?

There has been a lot of speculation that the increased use of technology and especially mobile technology would drive patients to using more and more telemedicine and telehealth services.

Approximately 77% of adults in the U.S. own a smart phone, which would enable easy access to telemedicine and telehealth services. However, adoption has been slower than predicted. Even so, the use of telemedicine and telehealth is growing. In part, the growing rate of telemedicine is due to awareness. Until patients try the telemedicine and telehealth services, they are not sure of the quality of the service or the outcomes. As more telemedicine users share their experiences, more people will likely be open to trying it.

It will come as no surprise that millennials are particularly keen to use telemedicine. Millennials are known to have close relationships with their technology and to have a high trust factor with information gained from their devices. As such, 60% of millennials support replacing routine doctor office visits with a telemedicine or telehealth appointment.

What is Teladoc?

Teladoc Health is a telemedicine provider. Teladoc Health is a publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The name Teladoc has become somewhat linked with telemedicine because Teladoc has been in the business for quite some time. Teladoc Health is one of many telemedicine and telehealth providers to consider when purchasing telemedicine.

What’s Next for Telemedicine?

Telemedicine and telehealth services will grow with consumer demand. In order for the industry to grow and implement innovative solutions, telemedicine providers must reach out to consumers to raise awareness about the benefits and the affordability of their services. Technologically speaking, video chats already exist and are becoming more popular as a means of conducting an appointment. Technology can also help telemedicine grow through the use of electronic medical records where physician share data related to a patient’s prognosis and treatment.

Summary

Telemedicine and telehealth are an affordable way to have access to doctors who are available online by using a telephone or video application.

Please Note: Telemedicine does not replace the primary care physician, and telemedicine providers reserve the right not to prescribe medications including DEA controlled substances.

Learn More About Telemedicine

  • healthinsurance.com telemedicine quotes, ten telemedicine myths debunked, two arrows pointing in different directions with the words myths and facts
    Telemedicine has become a vehicle to strengthen engagement between patients and doctors by connecting them in real-time via phone or online. Thanks to telemedicine, medical professionals can now evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients using technology like video conferencing and smartphones — all without the need for an in-person visit. And with technology only becoming an even bigger part of the way we interact, telemedicine is likely to serve an important role in healthcare today and in the future. Though we live in a digital age, there are still myths about telemedicine, online doctors, and new digital options for medical care. That said, let's bust 10 common telemedicine myths. Telemedicine myths vs. realities Myth #1 – Telemedicine doesn’t use real doctors. Reality: Telemedicine doctors are board-certified and licensed to practice in your state. These doctors live in the United States and face rigorous training and credentialing, so you’ll always get expert advice on your non-emergency medical condition. One note: A telemedicine doctor shouldn't replace your primary care physician. Having both a primary care doctor and telemedicine can improve the quality of your healthcare and gives you access to a doctor for almost every medical scenario. Meet with your primary care physician to address health issues that your telemedicine doctor doesn’t cover. Myth #2 – A virtual doctor can't diagnose my condition. Reality: Telemedicine doctors can treat illnesses such as the flu, conjunctivitis (pink eye), bladder infections, yeast infections, acid reflux, and skin conditions. Certain telehealth professionals can also provide treatment plans for mental health services, like the treatment of depression, anxiety or stress. An official diagnosis is provided for each of these respective illnesses and health problems after a telemedicine doctor assesses your condition. What telemedicine doesn't include are emergency-related health concerns such as stroke, heart attacks, and major accidents. Always call 911 in those situations. Myth #3 – An online doctor can’t prescribe medication. Reality: After you talk to a doctor online and get an official diagnosis, your online doctor can prescribe you medication to treat your condition. Your virtual doctor will then submit prescription orders to your pharmacy of choice. While companies like Teladoc do cover prescriptions for a host of health issues, there are some exclusions. Online doctors can't prescribe controlled substances like opiate-based painkillers. Myth #4 – Virtual doctor appointments take place at inconvenient times. Reality: Finding free time to go see a doctor during the week can be challenging, especially if you have a "9 to 5" job. But telemedicine gives you access to medical professionals at any time, so you can likely schedule an appointment at a time that works for you. Through a HIPAA-approved technology platform, you'll get access to care 24/7, 365 days a year. As a bonus: You'll avoid commutes and waiting room delays. This advantage helps you keep your busy schedule on track while still receiving quality healthcare on a regular basis. Myth #5 – My telemedicine appointment will be time restricted. Reality: Doctors can sometimes rush in-person appointments because of their packed schedules with many patients to see in a single day. Telemedicine appointments, unlike a traditional in-person doctor’s visit, can free you from potentially frustrating time restrictions. Your online doctor will stay on the call as long as you need to ensure you receive the quality care you deserve. And they'll make sure all of your concerns are addressed before the appointment ends. Virtual doctors also have no maximum visit capacity, so you can connect with online providers as much as you'd like. You may also be able to request a specific doctor for your visit, depending on your plan benefits. But remember the reality of myth #1: All telemedicine doctors are board-certified and state-licensed. You are meeting with healthcare professionals who are qualified to assess your condition, provide an official diagnosis, and follow-up with proper treatment recommendations. Myth #6 – I can only use video technology for my telemedicine appointment. Reality: You might dread the thought of a face-to-face virtual consultation over webcam or FaceTime, but most telehealth providers allow you to talk to a doctor through an online chat or by phone. Telemedicine services can typically accommodate your request if you'd prefer to connect with your doctor in a non-visual way. Myth #7 – Telemedicine treatment is too limited. Reality: Virtual doctors aren't a good option for emergencies. But they can treat over 40 common medical issues including: Cold and flu Allergies Sinus infection Fever Strep throat Asthma Skin conditions like hives and rashes Women’s health issues Men’s health issues Allergies Migraines If you prefer to manage most of your standard healthcare digitally, then telemedicine covers a wide range of illnesses for quality care that you can depend on. Myth #8 – Telemedicine won’t "stick." Reality: We live in a world of Uber Eats, Instacart, and Amazon - all have goods and services you can order from your couch. With telemedicine, you can talk to a doctor from the comfort of your own home, too. In other words: Connectivity is king these days. In fact, studies show that 40% of millennials view telemedicine as a "very important" option for their health care. Myth #9 – Telemedicine is more expensive than traditional medical visits. Reality: Individuals and employers alike may see lower health care costs when using telemedicine over urgent care services. In fact, one study estimated that patients save approximately $100 on an average telehealth visit, with $75 of that devoted to health care costs and the other $25 to travel and time spent seeking care. When you consider the convenience of this innovative healthcare option paired with the type of savings you can potentially expect for your digital visits with online doctors, the value of telemedicine services really begins to stand out. An important call out: Telemedicine isn't insurance, but many insurance companies offer a telehealth benefit or allow you to purchase it as an add-on to your plan. Check with your insurance provider to see if telemedicine is a covered benefit. Myth #10 – My health information won't be safe or secure when using telemedicine. Reality: Privacy is always a concern. But all telemedicine companies have to comply with the same rules that hospitals and doctors do, including all relevant state, national, and international regulations, including the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). And all telemedicine technology, including video chat systems used to conduct patient appointments, must pass HIPAA compliance. In other words: Your medical information is protected, and it won't be shared without your consent. Strict laws and regulations keep your medical files safe and away from parties that have no legal right to view this personal information. What are the advantages of telemedicine? Saves time. Surveys show that telemedicine appointments average 14 minutes compared to an average of two hours for doctor visits in person. Saves money. Statistics show that many co-pays for telemedicine visits are either the same cost or cheaper than co-pays for doctor visits in person. Increases access to care. Telemedicine has expanded access to healthcare for rural residents, especially. Widely adopted. Nearly 25% of U.S. consumers have had a telemedicine visit with a doctor. There are also more than 200 telemedicine networks with 3,500 service sites in the U.S. Expanding nationwide. Survey statistics indicate that 96% of major American companies will provide telemedicine services for employees as state healthcare laws allow. Used in hospitals. Medical facilities are also experiencing the benefits of telemedicine services with over 60% of hospitals using this technology for remote patient monitoring. Provides patient satisfaction. Telemedicine patients appear to be pleased with the results of their online doctor visits: 83% of survey respondents found virtual appointments on par or more appealing than a traditional trip into the doctor’s office. Find telehealth services Getting access to 24/7 online care is just a few clicks away: You can check out telemedicine features and prices through our website. We work with telemedicine partner, Teladoc, a company that offers a large network of board-certified doctors and pediatricians who provide virtual healthcare anywhere at any time. Telehealth services offered through Teladoc depend on the plan you choose, but services can cover everything from everyday medical problems to mental health concerns.
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  • Woman using her phone to video conference with a doctor
    Imagine waking up feeling achy, fatigued, and congested. You check your temperature, and it’s confirmed: You have a fever - possibly the flu. So which is it? The good news is you don’t have to get out of bed and travel to see a doctor to figure it out. Today we have telemedicine through our site, which connects you with medical professionals by phone or online. And it’s no secret that a fever or the flu is nothing to ignore, so an online doctor can give you a diagnosis and treatment through telemedicine. What is telemedicine? Simply put: Telemedicine connects patients with medical professionals in real time by phone or online. Thanks to telemedicine, medical professionals can now evaluate, diagnose and treat patients using technology like video conferencing and smartphones - all without the need for an in-person visit. But it’s important to note that telemedicine is used for non-emergency health situations. How does telemedicine work? Most telemedicine companies, like our partner Teladoc, require you to set up a quick account and provide your medical history before agreeing to treat you. Think of it like a standard doctor visit as a new patient: Expect questions like, “What are your symptoms?” “What’s your family medical history?” or “List the medications you’re currently taking.” Note, telemedicine companies are required to use HIPAA compliant software to certify that your personal health history is protected. Once you’ve set up an account and filled in your medical history, scheduling an appointment is as easy as opening an app from your smartphone, and once confirmed, entering into a video or FaceTime conversation with the doctor. Within minutes, the doctor can diagnose your medical issue, develop a treatment plan, and prescribe any necessary medication. What conditions do telehealth doctors treat? Virtual doctors can treat nearly any non-emergency illness such as: Cold and flu Sinus infection Fever Nausea and vomiting Asthma Skin conditions like hives and rashes Women’s health issues Men’s health issues Allergies Migraines What are the benefits of telemedicine? For patients: Access doctors who accept your insurance. Get care from the comfort of your own home. Increases access to care, especially to those living in rural areas or have little or no means to transportation. Saves on transportation costs. Reduces the need to take time off of work. Spend less time in the waiting room. Cuts down on the spread of disease, keeping fewer sick people from public waiting rooms. Saves on healthcare costs overall. In fact, one study estimated that patients save approximately $100 on an average telehealth visit, with $75 of that devoted to health care costs and the other $25 to travel and time spent seeking care. How much do telemedicine appointments cost? The cost to receive telemedicine services will vary depending on your health insurance plan and the reason for your visit. As an example, here are certain medical visit costs for an individual living in the Chicago area and staying in-network: 15-minute doctor’s office visit for an established patient: $98 20-minute doctor’s office visit for new patient visit: $81 Emergency room visit for a low to moderate problem: $388 50-minute mental health check: $147 And here are average provider costs across the nation: The average cost of a traditional on-site doctor visit: $146 The average cost of an emergency room visit: $1,734 The average cost of a telehealth visit: $79 It’s important to note that telemedicine is not insurance, though. Instead, it’s a way to provide you with virtual healthcare services 24/7. Who are the doctors? The doctors who treat you are board-certified doctors who live in the United States and are licensed to practice in your state. The doctors go through rigorous training and credentialing, so you’ll always get expert advice on your non-emergency medical condition. Can online doctors treat emergencies? You should not use telemedicine if you’re experiencing a medical emergency. Always call 911. Can online doctors prescribe medications? Yes, telemedicine doctors can write prescriptions for many conditions like sinus infections, colds, allergies, some STDs and more. It’s important to know that telemedicine providers reserve the right not to prescribe medications, including DEA controlled substances. While telemedicine is a convenient way to get care, it should not replace your primary care physician. Is telemedicine safe and secure? Like your primary care physician, telemedicine companies have to comply with all relevant state, national, and international regulations, including the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Unless permitted or required by law, your medical information will not be shared without your consent. What do I need for my first telemedicine visit? We've put together a handy checklist to help you prepare for your first visit. How can I check if I have telemedicine benefits? Review your health insurance plan to find out if you have access to telemedicine services and providers. How do I sign up for telemedicine? If you don’t already have telemedicine benefits, you can get a Teladoc quote and purchase a plan through our site. The process is easy and takes just minutes. And be sure to check out what Teladoc patients are saying about telemedicine.
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