If you’re like most people, you’ve heard the term telemedicine and wondered what that means exactly. Telemedicine refers to the practice of caring for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically present with each other. Telemedicine increases access to healthcare because remote patients can more easily obtain services and are especially important in rural areas, where there may be fewer healthcare providers.
The healthcare industry changes all the time to accommodate new research findings and integrate new treatments, but today’s medical industry is changing like never before all thanks to the growth of the internet and the prevalence of devices like smartphones and tablets.
What does telemedicine mean for the future of healthcare? For patients, many of the changes are positive, translating to better access to doctors, better communication with medical providers, greater personalization of care to meet the individual’s needs and less expense. Telemedicine is often more affordable because it doesn’t require the same facilities and equipment as a brick-and-mortar doctors’ office.
Online Doctor: Skip the Waiting Room and the Wait
We go to the doctor to get well or make sure we stay healthy but doctors’ offices and waiting rooms are filled with sick people. Even if you are one of them, you don’t want to go home with a new contagious bug along with the ache or illness that spurred your visit in the first place. Americans wait an average of 24 minutes to be seen by their physicians (and on occasion can balloon up to 2 or more hours). On average, that is three times longer than the 8 minutes you’ll spend with the provider once you get to see them. Online medical care can never fully replace face-to-face treatment for all conditions but the convenience of a virtual house call, especially when you are sick or it’s 2:00 in the morning and your child is running a fever, is unbeatable.
Teladoc, the telemedicine benefit provided by NMC, isn’t meant to replace your primary care physician (PCP) but provides immediate care for medical conditions like a cold, rash, or a minor injury that may require care sooner than you might be able to get into your PCP’s office or those that might otherwise result in a trip to an urgent care or ER but aren’t true emergencies. Once you request an appointment by phone call, via the web site or using the Teladoc mobile app, you can have a video or phone call with a doctor in a matter of minutes, no matter what time of day it is.
Telemedicine can save patients two things they value most: time and money.
There is no time limit on how long you can spend with a doctor once you’re connected. Remember the average time spent with a physician in office is 8 minutes. You won’t be rushed off the phone or asked to pay more to extend your appointment. You also have the option to request an appointment as soon as possible or schedule it for a future time that fits your schedule. On average, a telemedicine visit costs around $40 – $79 compared with $146 for an office visit. That’s a savings of both time and money!
NMC offers a membership level that includes a telemedicine benefit. As a Security Shield member, there is no additional fee for a Teladoc consultation. That’s right! The consultation fee is included in the cost of your NMC membership. Virtual consultations are designed to replace more expensive visits to a doctor’s office or emergency room and as mentioned above, can range from $40 – $79. The savings on a virtual consultation alone is worth the price of membership. PLUS there are so many other valuable benefits at this member level. You need to see for yourself to believe it!
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