Telemedicine: Insurance Companies Wants Us to Dial Up Care

 I have a friend who is a nurse and she always shares with me her love for her job and her patients. I found it fascinating that she cared for them while working from home or working from her office via the telephone. This was my first introduction to Telemedicine. I have to confess that like 41% of consumers I had never heard of Telemedicine.

However, my friend has managed to not only care for her patients but nurture them and see to their every need; all while communicating effectively using Telemedicine. She recently told me that her patients are more likely to share their needs while over the phone than in person. She can tell just by the sound of their voice or when they share their stats, if something is not right and will send a nurse or caretaker to their home if they are unable to make it to their primary doctor. She has a developed a wonderful relationship with her patients all while tending to them over the phone. She visits with them when they are hospitalized or at their home, she calls them regularly, prays with them and councils them. In some cases, she is almost like family to them. I have seen the love she has for her job and the people she affectionately refers to as “My Patients”.

Telemedicine, the new system for caring for patients has been around for a while. The use of telemedicine is growing as it has become mandated by some insurance companies to keep costs down. Telemedicine’s main objective is to prevent patients from going to or returning back to the hospital for the same or for additional treatment. It can also be used in conjunction with your primary care physician and specialists. Both doctors can share information via phone and/or video to treat a patient’s condition. Telemedicine is fast becoming the forefront to reducing cost and the insurance companies are being proactive in this type of care.

Telemedicine is the ability to provide interactive healthcare utilizing modern technology and telecommunications.

It is a system that requires each person young or old to not only have a doctor but an assigned team that will follow up with you. This could be after Doctor’s visit, diagnoses for ailments, after hospitalization and during regular follow ups with the chronically ill. All of these measures are designed to proactively avoid any one from having to be treated or retreated at a hospital where the cost of care skyrockets.

This team not only follows up after an illness but they are there to direct you to additional services and care if you are unable to provide for yourself such as; Meals on wheels for the elderly. The can also help with housing needs if you are struggling financially. They are there to provide true well care.

Data show that telemedicine can deliver quality outcomes comparable to in person office visits. A 2011 Center for Disease Control study showed eighty percent of adults discharged from the emergency room-meaning patients who could be treated and sent home-said they sought care at the ER due to lack of access to a primary care provider (PCP). However, the ER is also the most expensive and least efficient way to provide non-emergent care, costing from $1,500 to $3,000 on average compared to $130 to $190 for a PCP visit. A telemedicine visit can cost as little as $40.

Everyone knows that healthcare is expensive and anything that is geared towards helping people and keeping costs down in my book is a win-win situation for the insurance companies and the patients.