Over the past few years, more people have started to use Telemedicine and virtual doctor visits as their primary way of receiving medical care because they can receive the same quality (or even better) service at a fraction of time and cost, two of most valuable resources.
Staying safe during this health crisis is one of the main reasons people choose virtual doctor visits and Telemedicine.And let’s face it, it makes perfect sense to opt in for this type of service, rather than wait in a crowded waiting room, running the risk of being infected or infecting others.
There’s an increase in demand for Telemedicine and virtual doctor visits, as a result insurance companies are starting to cover a wider range of Telemedicine and waiving cost-sharing for virtual doctor visits. Through these virtual visits, people can assess their Coronavirus symptoms (if they have any) and to do regular follow-ups with their physician, but without have to leaving home.
Policy makers, service providers, insurers and patients would like to see virtual doctor visits cover more of our healthcare system. For example, all large employers now offer telehealth services as part of their employee health coverage. This was the case only in 7% of employers back in 2012. Today, it’s much higher.
With the help of telemedicine, patients can easily reach their doctor if they have signs of upper respiratory issues, fever, rashes, urinary tract infection, pink eye and so on.
Virtual doctor visits can save you money in more than one way
- With in-person visits you physically need to go down to the doctor’s office and that costs you either public transportation or gas (if you’re driving)
- Virtual doctor visits have expanded access to behavioral health (extremely important during these unprecedented times)
- You can easily manage other forms of health care (like chronic conditions) through telehealth
- Some online doctor visits provide 24/7 access
Virtual doctor visits provide 24/7 access
Before, in order to pay a visit to your doctor, even just for a routine follow-up, you most likely had to take time off from work, because your appointment was scheduled during office hours. And then you have to factor in the time you will spend in the waiting room or ER and the possibility of contracting some illness while you wait.
Furthermore, if you have a medical emergency at night, when the doctor’s office is not open, your choices are to either go to an urgent-care center or emergency room, which can be costly. In addition, for non-urgent appointments you most likely had to wait for a few days (or more) before you could see a doctor.
But with select virtualdoctor visits, this is the thing of the past. Thanks to Telehealth, you can now tackle your medical issues head onand diagnose changes earlier, before they become a serious issue. And also, you can do it in a fraction of a time than with in-person visits.
One of the fastest-growing usage of Telemedicine, was in Behavioral Health. According to some surveys in 2019, over 70% of employers offered behavioral health services through Telehealth, 6% of them were planning to offer it in 2020 and about 10% were going to offer it in 2021.
The reason why this area is so popular with virtual doctor visits is because here, you don’t need to have a physical exam or do lab work in order to assess your health.
Thanks to virtual doctor visits in mental health, patients are now able to see their therapist or psychologist easier, they have added privacy since they are staying home and more people in rural areas can have access to this type of service.
Having good and accessible mental health support is crucial for our overall health, especially in uncertain times like we live in right now i.e. coronavirus pandemic.
Health care and management
Other illnesses and conditions didn’t take a break because of the health crisis we currently face. They still need attention, care and management. This is why most of health insurers have included other types of care under virtual doctor visits or Telehealth. Now, you can have a virtual appointment with a dermatologist, nutritionist if you have a weight-management problem, prenatal care and so on. Probably one of the most important impacts virtual doctor visits have is on chronic disease management such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer. These diseases require constant care and monitoring which is difficult and time-consuming with in-person appointments.But through virtual doctor visits, your physician or specialist is able to assess your (or your loved one’s) condition, compare it with the findings from the previous session and recommend a change in therapy if necessary.
It is safe to assume that we will see the number of services offered through virtual doctor visits go even higher, especially now when people are staying home during the Covid-19 pandemic. These new areas might include physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy.