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Telemedicine FAQ

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. 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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  • It's no secret that the healthcare industry is changing every day. Medical professionals and healthcare leaders are consistently pursuing ways to improve health outcomes, services, and costs. One big advancement worth talking about is telemedicine. While it's not necessarily a new concept, telemedicine delivers both convenience and cost savings for many people, resulting in a recent surge in its popularity. Here are five ways telemedicine is impacting healthcare: 1. Telemedicine can be a cost-effective option for patients. The cost to receive telemedicine services will vary depending on your health insurance plan and the reason for your visit. Still, it tends to be a cheaper option than seeing a doctor in person. In fact, one study 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. HealthLeaders Media also reported savings between $309 to $1,500 in emergency room costs. So instead of going to the ER for something as simple as a cold, you can speak to a doctor by phone or video chat and receive the same treatment - potentially at a lower cost. In certain cases for elderly care, a patient can receive rehabilitation at home rather than at a retirement home or assisted living facility. Some facilities use telemedicine monitoring through cameras and analytical software — which enabxles providers to gather data and hold remote consultations with the patient to monitor his or her treatment and overall health. This option can result in cost savings over time. Some evidence also suggests that telemedicine may also improve healthcare outcomes for the elderly. Staying in the comfort of their own homes appears to increase their overall well-being. 2. Telemedicine increases patient engagement. With telemedicine care, you can review your treatment plan and medical records in real-time, allowing you to ask questions to your assigned virtual doctor. Plus, scans and results can be sent directly to you. Certain telemedicine companies have even created apps to better organize your medical information and health goals all in one place, which may help you: Store personal health information and vital signs Schedule medicine reminders Record caloric intake and track physical activity These time-saving technology measures encourage patients to become more engaged in their overall health. This is especially meaningful if you're dealing with a chronic condition such as diabetes, heart problems, or behavioral health. 3. Telemedicine expands access to care for rural residents. Telemedicine can make an impact in rural areas, especially. Approximately 62 million Americans—or 1 in 5 people—live in rural areas, with just 9% of all physicians practicing in these settings. That means there’s room for improvement. Our government leaders recognize these concerns, so they've invested significantly in expanding telemedicine services in small towns. One area of development is stroke prevention. Some research shows using telestroke networks in remote places helps reduce instances of strokes. Telemedicine can offer convenient access to medical care that may not otherwise be available to rural residents. If you’re in a rural community, you may have to travel long distances or take precious time off of work to get the care you need. So the bottom line is: Access to ongoing healthcare and monitoring services can improve health outcomes in rural areas. 4. Telemedicine makes healthcare more convenient Let's face it: Visiting your doctor or dealing with unpredictable wait times at an urgent care facility isn't always convenient. Instead, it's nice to get care from the comfort of your own home. Telemedicine may offer faster diagnosis and treatment since you can make an appointment online and avoid sitting in a waiting room. Or maybe you don't want to bump into other patients or spread your illness. Telemedicine and telehealth services can happen 24/7, making them practical and convenient. 5. Telemedicine makes mental health services more accessible Nearly 50% of adults in the United States will have a mental health incident in their lifetime. But if you can't access mental health experts or are worried about the possible stigma of receiving care, you might avoid getting treatment. Certain telemedicine services might include mental health services at a reasonable cost through teleconferencing, phone communication, or text messaging. Therapists can deliver cognitive therapy via video chat and send reminder messages to take medications, or forward the session recording to another specialist for a second opinion. In many cases, telemedicine and telehealth mean the same thing: Health care delivered through technology. But telehealth services may have expanded coverage for certain illnesses, mental health support, and educational services. One well-known telemedicine company is Teladoc. Treatment plans and methods vary, so it's important to know what's covered through your telemedicine provider. What is telemedicine anyway? Telemedicine combines traditional medical care with technology to deliver patient services remotely via phone call or online video chat - the method of communication is in the control of the patient. In other words, telemedicine offers patients easy access to doctors and specialists at any time. Telemedicine delivers the same care you'd receive face-to-face without the hassle of traveling long distances, taking time off work, or being too sick to leave your home. And depending on your telemedicine plan, you may be able to talk to a doctor online within a few hours of signing up. Anyone can take advantage of telemedicine, but the services provided may not fit all needs. Virtual doctors typically treat non-emergency illnesses 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 And if security and privacy is a concern, know that all telemedicine providers must be HIPAA-compliant. HIPAA requires that a patient's medical information remain confidential. Telemedicine does not cover emergencies If you have a cold or flu, consulting with an online doctor is a quick way to receive treatment. For those with sinus infections, strep throat, or bladder infections, you can benefit from telemedicine, too. But if you have a life-threatening emergency or accident, telemedicine isn’t the answer. Some types of emergencies include broken bones, heart attacks, and strokes. For emergency medical concerns, calling 911 is always your best bet. Telemedicine is available anywhere, any time Telemedicine is for people living in urban and remote areas. Rural residents may have limited access to doctors and specialists, making telemedicine a good answer. Other people who benefit from telemedicine are people experiencing an insurance gap who need an affordable way to get basic medical care, or those unable to request time off work to see a doctor. What does the future of telemedicine look like? As technology continues to advance, it’s likely that the use of telemedicine will continue to increase. A white paper, published by FAIR Health, showed that telehealth grew by 1,393% between 2014 to 2018. That said, the future of telemedicine looks bright. Still, there are some issues to overcome. The first is low awareness: Many people don't realize telemedicine might be a good option for them. The second challenge is that people may shy away from the technological aspect. We're often used to the traditional face-to-face interactions with our doctors, so getting care online or by phone may make patients uncomfortable, even though it can be just as effective in many cases. Also, some health insurance companies don't offer telemedicine services quite yet. Is telemedicine right for you? The question of whether telemedicine is right for you depends on preferences and health situation. If you prefer face-to-face communication with a doctor or need more extensive care, it may not be the answer. But if you live in a rural place, you're short on time, or in between health insurance coverage, telemedicine offers access, convenience, and lower cost. The choice is up to you and your health needs. Get a telemedicine quote today Though it's a relatively new concept to many, finding a telemedicine company is easier than you think. Costs for telemedicine vary by age, gender, and location, ranging anywhere from $10 to $20 a month for individuals. Beyond this monthly fee, you also should consider costs for a telemedicine appointment. Start by getting a quote of costs and services provided through our telemedicine partner, Teladoc. Signing up is easy and takes only a few minutes. Teladoc provides you with a national network of licensed medical professionals who can help you with routine care, personal wellness, physical therapy, mental health and more.
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