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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
APR 04, 2019
Anne Marie May and Kevin Korte
House Calls: How Telemedicine is Transforming Healthcare
Approximately seven million patients will use telemedicine by the end of 2019, according to Chiron Health.
Using telemedicine, healthcare professionals can evaluate, diagnose and treat patients via telecommunications technology. Thanks to the internet and smart devices with high-quality video, today’s patients can receive remote healthcare in their homes or workplaces.
What’s telemedicine used for?
Telemedicine is most commonly used to treat strains, sprains, burns, abrasions and common illnesses like the flu, or to perform post-operative checks. Patients can schedule appointments during a break at work, then check in to a virtual waiting room until it’s their turn to video conference with the doctor.
For those with an injury that makes them dependent on transportation from others, telemedicine enables self-sufficiency. This is also true for those who face discomfort after operative procedures.
What are the effects of telemedicine?
As telemedicine becomes more popular, insurance coverage and provider reimbursement are increasing accordingly. The American Telemedicine Association reports that 35 states already have parity laws for private insurance coverage of telemedicine, and many of these laws require insurance companies to provide reimbursement for telemedicine services that are equivalent to in-office visits.
Telemedicine is beneficial for keeping minor health issues out of expensive healthcare facilities and hospital emergency rooms. Additionally, the reduction in demand on the in-patient healthcare system actually enhances patient services. Facilities have time to invest in technologies that increase efficiency, capacity and more.
The reduction or elimination of waiting time effectively reduces the overall cost of seeing a medical specialist. Additionally, telemedicine is available after hours — some states even require 24/7 care, which enables continuous communication between healthcare professionals and claims specialists.
Who benefits from using telemedicine?
Those with high-deductible health plans can benefit most from telemedicine. While some people are hesitant about the security of telemedicine, all virtual visits protect patient confidentiality. Conferencing occurs through a secure line, and no video visits may be saved or recorded for playback.
The increased access and convenience of telemedicine improves patients’ perception of care and their understanding of the healthcare system. As more patients take charge of their own care, the financial and staffing burden on facilities decreases dramatically. Moreover, business owners will see an increase in their bottom line as a result of this relief to the system.