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Is Telemedicine Cheaper Than On-Site Medical Visits?

Published Wednesday, September 2, 2020
by brianoconnell

Telehealthcare, or “teledoc” as medical professionals call it, is a real-time video chat alternative to regular medical visits that could pay off for Americans - in more ways than one. 

Besides offering teleconferencing visits with medical professionals as well as email, text messages, and additional digital and virtual support, it may be. a budget-saver, as well.

The simplicity in use is nothing short of amazing. 

Patients can send their physicians and clinicians images and upload files and information to a digital platform “and receive a diagnosis, treatment plan, and connections with necessary specialists through telehealth services,” states the medical platform Save.Health. “Apps, wearables, and patient-monitoring devices can be used remotely with telehealth support,” the company adds.

Telehealth can save patients money, too.

According to Save.Health, a typical telehealth appointment with a primary care provider costs about $50, as opposed to a traditional in-person office visit that generally costs about $176 per visit. “Insurance copays may bring this down to $15 or $20 a visit, but telehealth appointments will often not even have a copay at all,” the company notes.

Then there’s a trip to the emergency room, which can trigger between $50 and $100 in copay costs, or between $150 and upward of $3,000 if the patient has no insurance. “Telehealth services can save you a trip to the ER by answering your questions virtually whenever they come up, even if it’s after traditional office hours,” Save.Health states.

Maybe that’s why telehealth is proving so popular with medical consumers.

According to Metova, a custom software solutions provider, 80% of Americans would choose telemedicine for their next medical appointment. Additionally, 79% have wanted to connect with a medical professional using video conferencing and 93% were either satisfied or very satisfied with their telemedicine experience.

“81% say they would choose telemedicine for their next consultation and 97% say that at least some of their past doctor visits could have been done virtually. It’s clear that the majority is ready for telemedicine – if they aren’t already using it,” said Jonathan Sasse, president at Metova. "With many wishing to avoid medical waiting rooms due to COVID-19, we’re expecting an acceleration in demand for telemedicine. Fortunately, technology now provides the means to provide patients with no-compromise personal consultations, all from the comfort and safety of the patients home.”

“The demand, acceptance and necessity for telemedicine are here now, but there are still reservations that a telemedicine encounter may be inferior to an in-person visit,” said Dr. Darren Sommer, founder and CEO at Innovator Health, which contributed to the study. “With new technology solutions, medical providers can deliver high-impact services that are equal to, if not better than, traditional in-person visits - leveraging technology to revive the house call, at a time when we most need it.”

One hang-up with telemedicine is that patients, especially elderly ones not fully engaged with today’s personal healthcare technological innovations, may not have the tools needed on hand at home to accurately gauge their health levels at the time of the call or teleconference.

That’s why 96% of people in the Metova study say would “find it useful if their doctor or insurance company provided medical equipment to ensure a more productive telemedicine appointment. (i.e. blood pressure, temperature, etc., to provide vital readings during the session.”)

If the medical community could figure that problem out, then the path would be clear for full-on telehealth engagement between doctors and patients.

That’s actually already happening. 

According to Metova, nearly 70% of people surveyed say they’ve had a video consultation with a medical professional, and nearly 40% of those had their first telemedicine experience since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Telehealth, both for health and financial reasons, is an idea whose time has come – even if it had to really take flight in a quarantine-laced pandemic.

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