Impacts from technology are everywhere these days…including how we access medical care. Calling or seeing a doctor online or on our smartphone is an amazing benefit, but the laws ensuring quality of care and protection of consumers tends to lag behind the speed of advancement. However, the laws are coming up to speed making telemedicine a viable and convenient option.
Kristi Henderson, vice president of Patient Access, Healthcare Transformation and Virtual Care at Ascension Texas, and clinical professor at Dell Medical School, has much to say telemedicine. “We know that the health care system costs too much, and we also know that people find it inconvenient,” she said, citing the cost of missing work, arranging for child care and contending with traffic as disincentives to making and keeping appointments. “Those kinds of barriers and friction mean people put it off. Then it becomes not about health and wellness. It becomes about sick care.” By making preventative care more convenient for patients, telemedicine helps offset the costs and risks of more critical care down the line.
A recent Telemedicine Law works to protect the integrity of patient care, for example, by permitting doctors to prescribe medicine and make diagnoses over the phone or computer, but they cannot use it for chronic pain management or chemical abortions. The challenges to prevent abuse will continue to be topic of discussion, but the future of online medicine for routine and common ailments have already proven to go a long way in reducing costs and increasing access to health care.
A few facts:
· 24.1 Days: Average wait time for a new patient appointment according a 2017 survey
· 65% (and rising): Hospitals in the U.S. using some form of telemedicine
· $50 – $79: Average cost of a telehealth visit (Free for Control Alt Med card holders and family!)