Over the last several years, a new format for medical consultation has emerged – Telemedicine. What is Telemedicine? The World Health Organization defines it as “healing from a distance”. Simply put, it is a remote consultation between a patient and a physician when they are not geographically close to one other. Telemedicine enables remote delivery of healthcare without losing the crucial human connection factor that is integral to healthcare.
What does telemedicine offer? This type of healthcare provides greater accessibility to healthcare while often being more cost-effective while maintaining a level of engagement between the patient and the care provider. It ultimately enables the patient to seek immediate, personalized, and virtual healthcare without physically going into a hospital or an urgent care clinic.
Increased adoption of telemedicine
Technological breakthroughs in the field of medicine, healthcare and technology have allowed this new delivery of healthcare to evolve and become adopted by both the medical community and patients. With an increase in demand for expedited, cost-effective, intelligent, and virtual healthcare (especially during the recent pandemic) medical practitioners and patients are adopting integrated telemedicine options in greater numbers each year.
Telemedicine vs. Telehealth
Telemedicine enables medical practitioners to leverage telecommunications and information technology tools to provide specific medical services to patients, including remote diagnostics and treatments, with zero need for in-person visits. Telemedicine offers healthcare professionals the ability to exchange reports, blood work analysis, x-ray results and other pertinent patient medical information quickly, remotely and securely.
Telehealth, on the other hand, has a much larger focus area – beyond remote delivery of medical assistance, it also includes additional areas such as the remote delivery of physician training, administrative meetings and medical education.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Here is a list of benefits a patient receives when selecting a telemedicine consultation:
- Easy access to physicians and specialists without having to drive long distances or wait to be seen in a waiting room.
- Appointments are easily scheduled and can take place during or after work hours
- Secure exchange of information, reports, etc. to obtain diagnosis and treatment using technology that adheres to HIPAA regulations
- Access to healthcare from remote or rural locations – even with limited connectivity
- Easy access to immediate healthcare for senior citizens or for small children
Healthcare providers also benefit from integrating telemedicine into their practice(s). These benefits include:
- Access to electronic medical records, AI-based diagnostics tools, digital medical/streaming data, and easy exchange of information/reports to enable diagnosis and treatment options in real-time
- Improved efficiency (lesser need for additional administrative staff)
- Streamlined workflows increase the number of patients that can be seen each day
- Fewer cancellations or missed appointments
- Faster follow-ups and expedited treatments
Types of telemedicine
- Interactive medicine – Physicians provide secure and live audio/video consultations and communicate in real-time to arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Store and forward – Patient information and electronic medical records are stored by physicians and shared with other specialists. This is useful in case the patient is being referred to another specialist so continuity in care and information is maintained.
- Remote patient monitoring – Senior citizens or critical care patients can be monitored in their homes or in assisted living centers by the physicians who can keep a check on their vitals.
Applications of telemedicine
Along with primary care clinics, medical specialties that have adopted telemedicine in greater numbers are radiology, mental health, pediatrics, geriatrics, and dermatology. Applications include:
- Sharing of medical records and information
- Follow-up visits
- Post hospitalization/surgery care
- Preventative care
- School-based telehealth
- Management of medication remotely
- Assistance in cases in chronic diseases
- Consultation to see if an ER visit is required
- Neonatal care
- Disaster relief
- Consultation kiosks in retail outlets
Costs associated with telemedicine
How much a patient pays for a telemedicine visit can differ from an in-person visit. Co-pays or self-pay rates for telemedicine visits are based on State regulations and the specific healthcare provider.
It is important to know that Medicare only reimburses your costs for certain services and practitioners. For instance, while a video consultation or remote monitoring visit is covered by most insurance providers, a store and forward method might not be covered.
Before you schedule a telemedicine visit, your healthcare provider at Prime Urgent Care Center will provide details on the cost of the visit based on the several factors, such as what insurance you have or if you are self-pay.
Before you opt for telemedicine with Prime Urgent Care
Prime Urgent Care clinics offer convenient, leading-edge telemedicine services to patients in the Pearland, TX, Missouri City, TX (Houston) and Sugar Land, TX area.
For more information on how the telemedicine option works, visit www.primeuc.com or call (713)340-3111. If you want to start your telemedicine consultation right away, click on the Start Telemedicine Visit.
Starting a telemedicine visit simply requires patients to click on a link provided by Prime Urgent Care. You will then be guided you through the steps of your visit, from consultation to billing. All you need is a smartphone, a computer or a tablet with internet access. You do not need to download any type of app or widget.
- What is the difference between telemedicine and telehealth?
Telemedicine is the use of technology to enable the remote healthcare. Healthcare providers can leverage telemedicine to diagnose and treat patients who are not geographically close to them. As a patient, you can communicate with healthcare providers, exchange and store vital information, and obtain an evaluation and diagnosis while on a videoconference call.
Telehealth, on the other hand, has a much larger focus area – it also includes areas such as the remote delivery of physician training, administrative meetings and medical education.
- How is telemedicine used in healthcare?
Using modern, HIPAA compliant video-conferencing tools, doctors can consult with their patients and administer healthcare remotely. All that is required is a smartphone, computer or tablet with internet access to communicate through videoconference calls, interactive chats and/or emails.
- What does a patient need for telemedicine?
The technology requirements for telemedicine are simple – a smartphone/computer/tablet, a secure and strong internet connection (for seamless data transfers and good video quality. Prime Urgent Care patients do not need to download any apps/widgets to access our Telemedicine video platform.
- Is telemedicine as good as a regular doctor consultation?
A telemedicine consultation with your regular physician is often just as effective as a regular in-person visit. Also, telemedicine is effective and convenient when reports need to be shared, information needs to be updated or for follow-up visits that can save time for patients as they can skip the drive to an urgent care clinic and waiting room entirely.
- Do insurance companies pay for telemedicine visits?
Most major insurance companies cover telemedicine; however, it also depends on the type of policy that the patient has. Medicare usually only covers video consultations (depending on the state you are in) and not other types of telemedicine, such as store and forward.
Speak to your healthcare provider beforehand about any costs associated with a telemedicine visit so you are informed.