Telemedicine is a very popular medium in health care nowadays. Doctors and patients alike have reaped the benefits of telemedicine, and many have already accepted this model as their health care method of choice.
Still, there are a lot of things that you may not now about telemedicine. There may also be a lot of facts thrown around about telemedicine that are not a hundred percent accurate. Here, you will learn about things that people frequently ask about telemedicine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a type of health care model where in interactions between patients and doctors are done online. This covers diagnosis and, in some cases, treatment as well. Facilities for ordering medication may also be available.
The purpose of telemedicine is to bridge the gap between patients and doctors despite physical limitations. This will include voice, video, chat, SMS, and email services that combine together to provide necessary health services through the Internet.
Several countries such as the United States and Australia have utilized telemedicine to great effect, and with acceptance growing rapidly worldwide as well as new innovations in the field, we can expect the field to grow at a rapid pace in the months and years to come.
Are Telemedicine and Telehealth the Same?
While some people use telemedicine and telehealth interchangeably, there are distinct differences between the two, especially when it comes to scope. Telemedicine refers to the actual interaction between a doctor and a patient using technology. This, in turn, is a part of telehealth.
Telehealth not only includes telemedicine, but it also accounts for systems that allow for the storing and maintenance of patient information and medical records, among others. Telehealth is also responsible for other aspects such as education and administration.
Simply put, telemedicine can be considered as the front end of health care while telehealth encompasses both front and back ends. Both, however, benefit doctors and patients although telehealth is beneficial to more parties at a larger scale.
What are the Benefits of Telemedicine?
There are several benefits to using telemedicine, both for doctors and patients. These include:
- Remote monitoring of patient’s physical state
- More accurate and real time data
- Remote consultations without need for travel
- Less no shows and cancellations
- Increased revenue
- Decreased overhead expenses
- Increased patient satisfaction
- Prevention of infection
- More flexible work schedule
- Work life balance
- Instant availability
As new hardware, software, gadgets, and apps emerge due to the constant evolution of technology, so will the benefits of telemedicine increase and improve for all parties concerned.
Do I Need to Visit a Doctor Personally First?
There may be some concerns as to whether new patients can be looked at by doctors via telemedicine. This will depend greatly on which state the hospital or doctor is operating from. While telemedicine is legal in most areas, different areas may have different policies especially when treating new patients.
Some areas may require a physical consultation first before follow up consultations can be made online. On the other hand, others may require that old patients be physically examined first in the event that new conditions arise.
As such, regulations regarding these will vary depending on where you are and where your doctor can be found. This means that the best course of action is to ask your doctor if you would need to come in personally or if remote consultations via telemedicine would do.
Is Telemedicine Covered by Insurance?
Many insurers already cover treatments, consultations, and tests made using telemedicine. In fact, these insurers prefer telemedicine as they are cheaper to cover. Some even offer telemedicine services for free as well as lower co-pay rates to encourage their clients to use this medium for their health care needs.
However, do take note that some insurers may not cover telemedicine expenses. This is because only about half of the states in the U.S. actually have laws that require this of them.
When it comes to Medicare and MediAid, most telemedicine services are covered as well. However, take note that there are existing policies and regulations with regard to what they specifically cover. Make it a point to ask first before using these types of health insurance if your specific requirements can be accommodated.
What Cases Can be Handled by Telemedicine?
Telemedicine can cover a wide variety of conditions, from mild ones to severe diseases that require constant attention. In some cases, consultation for urgent cases can also be done. Telemedicine is best in cases where in physical examinations are not necessary.
Telemedicine is also recommended for those with chronic conditions who just need to get checked up by the doctor from time to time. Through virtual consultations, patients may also inquire about and ask for medication. Those with mental health problems can also highly benefit from telemedicine.
For those patients that require some form of examination, most high definition cameras can capture photos and videos of the area that they want to have examined. For those with exams such as CT scans or X-rays, this information can be sent electronically to your doctor for review.
Is Telemedicine Cheaper?
Figures will vary regarding the savings that you would get when using telemedicine instead of the traditional methods of health care. Figures can range from 20 dollars to as much as 1,200 dollars. This is due to the reduced overhead expenses by doctors and hospitals to accommodate patients online.
However, patients can also save a lot of money, not only through direct patient costs, but in the form of time as well. Since consultations are done online, patients would no longer have to spend time and money to travel. They would no longer need to queue up in the hospital, which makes for a very convenient experience.
Is Telemedicine Safe and Secure?
Telemedicine, just like most sites, assure their patients’ safety and security through the use of security protocols. They are also assured of privacy as all telemedicine systems are required to be HIPAA compliant. The HIPAA Law, among others, ensures that all telemedicine transactions are secure and private.
As such, virtual consultations are as safe and confidential as physically going to the doctor for your consultation or treatment.