Individual and Family
What Is Telemedicine?
Published on March 13, 2018
The rise of the Internet has revolutionized every aspect of the modern economy, and the medical industry is no exception. As humanity has developed faster and more reliable ways of conveying information online, doctors, nurses, and all other healthcare practitioners have been able to enhance their services.
One of the most important ways medical practitioners have improved their craft is through telemedicine. By using the Internet and other advanced telecommunications to provide health services remotely, doctors and nurses have cut costs while offering more flexible care. If you are looking for an affordable, convenient health insurance plan, consider getting one that covers telemedicine.
What is telemedicine?
Also known as telehealth, telemedicine is the use of information technology (IT) and telecommunications to provide medical care remotely. Rather than requiring you to come into their office, a doctor or nurse who offers telemedicine can communicate directly with you. Telemedicine makes it easier to make diagnoses, monitor your health, or perform other services that do not require physical contact between you and the health-care provider.
If your health insurance provider covers telemedicine, they probably have a specific definition of services that qualify. Some examples include medical advice delivered by licensed medical professionals from:
- The practitioner’s office
- Hospitals, including critical access hospitals
- Rural health clinics
- Federally-qualified health centers
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Community mental health centers
- Hospital-based renal dialysis centers
Telemedicine is nothing new, and certain specialists have been using telehealth services since as early as the 1980s according to the Office of Health Policy. But since the use of the internet has become the more frequently adopted method of communication, telemedicine has become far more affordable and reliable, leading more practitioners to adopt using it to communicate more efficiently and more insurers to cover it.
What are the benefits of telemedicine?
Have you ever felt sick and scheduled a doctor’s visit, only to find out that it was a minor illness and you shouldn’t have bothered the doctor with it? Millions of patients go to their physicians with issues like this every year. This forces doctors to spend time and resources that they otherwise could have given to those who were suffering from serious illnesses. The issue is, patients do not know ahead of time whether their sickness is mild or severe, and oftentimes it is best not to take risks when it comes to health issues.
Telemedicine can let doctors diagnose far more patients through quick video calls. This saves time and resources for everyone, reducing the total cost of the care while providing the same benefits to patients. Insurers want to convince more patients to use telemedicine for minor diagnostic and monitoring services, which is why you might be able to save money if you purchase an insurance plan that covers telehealth.
Besides lower costs and quicker results, telemedicine has a number of other benefits, including:
- Remote Access– People who live in rural or isolated areas often have trouble getting to hospitals or doctor’s offices, and often don’t go unless it’s an emergency. This makes it harder for them to get preventative care, harming their health in the long run. Telemedicine services make it easier and less expensive for them to get frequent, quality care whenever they need it.
- Improved Monitoring– If a patient suffers from diabetes, heart disease, or some other chronic condition, their doctor needs to monitor their health and regularly adjust their treatment regimen. Telemedicine makes it easier for patients to share essential health information with their doctors, allowing them to manage their chronic conditions more effectively.
- Patient Engagement– Because it allows patients to engage directly with their healthcare providers, telemedicine helps them understand how to be healthy and act accordingly. In this way, it empowers them to take better care of their health.
For telemedicine to be delivered effectively, you and your physician need to have quality Internet access. This means that as broadband technology develops, the affordability, convenience, and effectiveness of telemedicine are likely to improve as well.
eHealth offers a wide variety of health insurance plans, including many that cover telemedicine. To find affordable, quality insurance for yourself or your family, check out our coverage options today.