If you start to feel a sickness come on you might be quick to call your doctor and schedule an appointment. There might be a way to avoid those long waiting room visits and hefty doctor bills. Its called virtual healthcare and it is being sought after nationwide.
The current push for virtual health care is coming not only from patients but insurance providers looking for more cost effective ways to get individuals the care they need. The idea isn’t farfetched from rural doctors who have been using telephones and video for years to refer patients to the correct care.
WLBT reports the way it works is companies would allow people to connect with a health care provider on their smartphone, tablet, or computer. They would have a consult live through companies like Teladoc, Doctor on Demand and MDLive. These doctors are licensed and are able to prescribe medicine.
The technology isn’t totally new but the announcement of these services was only made last year. Walgreens currently participates in 25 states. UnitedHealth Group and Blue Cross-Blue Shield will be making telemedicine services available to over 40 million people by 2016. These programs are appealing to consumers as well as their employers by reducing time lost when you try to go see a doctor at a clinic or hospital.
Depending on state regulations, and whether or not they require insurance coverage for the service, it could cost you anywhere from free to $25 as co-pay for a virtual visit. Most consolations cost $40 to $50 which is still only about half the price or a normal doctor visit.
Doctors are able to treat easily diagnosed conditions such as colds, ear infections, rashes, or small allergy problems. They also have the ability to prescribe some medicines for treatment. Mental health issues can also be addressed through the services. They are not, however, designed to handle larger medical emergencies and will immediately direct patients to 911. They will not write prescriptions for pain killers or non-essential medicines.