Kids have big dreams when asked what they want to be when they grow up. Some of the top professions children think about are professional athlete, teacher, nurse, writer, veterinarian or singer. What’s not on the list? Becoming a doctor. In fact, a recent Accenture study projected a shortage of 31,000 doctors in the United States by 2025. Yet the U.S. population is aging, and will need both immediate and long term care in the coming years. Who will doctor this population if there are not enough doctors to go around?
While the doctoring profession might not be growing currently, digital healthcare is expanding each year within the areas of technology, mobile apps and entrepreneurial startups, moving traditional medicine from a physical location to smartphones and the cloud. As our world of The Internet of Things continues to evolve, medicine will become more and more dependent on collecting our health data from devices and working online with medical professionals to achieve better wellness.
One of the first digital healthcare success stories is telemedicine. Founded as an instrument to connect doctors to rural patients and facilities with limited expertise in specialty medicine, telemedicine has advanced beyond hospital video conferencing to personal care in the privacy of one’s own home for a fraction of the cost.
As health insurance deductibles continue to rise, telemedicine is one cost-savings method that helps keep out-of-pocket medical expenses low. The average family deductible is currently $3,456 each year, and some individuals and families have even higher deductible plans. If a family has several children or if an adult is prone to regular illness, office visits or trips to urgent care can stack up quickly, and are most likely paid out-of-pocket because the first several thousand dollars of medical expenses are the individual’s responsibility. This is when a remote consultation with a board-certified doctor or pediatrician can be a financial lifesaver.
Connecting to a doctor for consultation over the telephone or through a one-on-one video conference differs by company. Some strictly use telephone consultations for diagnosis, while others use video chat so patients can speak face-to-face with a doctor, and form a personal relationship, which provides comfort and support. Physicians can diagnose ailments and even write prescriptions for most non-emergency medical conditions, allowing patients to skip the waiting room — all for an average of $40 per consultation. Considering the average cost of a doctor office visit in the U.S. is $155, the cost savings are substantial.
Telemedicine visits are FREE with a HealthValues membership.
Typically telemedicine vendors require a patient’s medical history to be completed prior to seeing a doctor online or over the phone similar to filling out paperwork in a doctor’s office waiting room. This saves time for both doctor and patient in advance of the consultation, giving the physician time to review medical history and current medications, and allows the patient to get to the point at the immediate start of their online or telephonic visit. Time is also saved by not having to drive to a clinic, wait in a lobby and exam room, drive to a pharmacy and wait for a prescription to be filled. Many telemedicine patients state the average process from start to finish is about 45 minutes.
As a member of HealthValues, members receive free telemedicine consultations through Teladoc, the oldest telemedicine service in the U.S. Teladoc connects members to board-certified physicians and pediatricians who are licensed to practice medicine in their state of residence. Members can save an average of $540-$720 or more per year using Teladoc rather than scheduling appointments or visiting urgent care for common illnesses. Learn more about how telemedicine can help your family at HealthValues.