In a society where it can be hard to find a spare minute, going to the doctor is sometimes put on the back burner. However, over the past few years telehealth visits, also referred to as eVisits, have become increasingly more popular. These visits, which are conducted via video chat, offer everything a regular office visit would including a full assessment and the prescribing of medication, if needed. Because these visits are conducted over video chat, people are able to see their doctor whenever and wherever they need.
Some major health systems, such as Cleveland Clinic are offering telehealth visits as a side option, but there are also companies, such as Doctor On Demand, whose sole dedication is providing telehealth visits for patients who cannot get into see their regular doctor. Telehealth visits, like all new things, come with pros and cons:
Seeing a doctor virtually allows patients to see their doctor anywhere, which can be a huge time saver for both the patients and the providers. It allows patients to see their doctors without having to deal with the trouble of commuting to the office and waiting for the doctor to be available. This is ideal for people who are often pressed for time, or who just aren’t feeling well and don’t feel like going out. Also great for parents with sick a sick child or children because pulling a sick kiddo out of bed is never fun.
Keeps simple colds and flus out of the office
Many times a provider can easily diagnose a simple illness, such as a seasonal cold or flu, via video with no problem. Keeping patients with minor (and contagious) illnesses out of the office gives providers more time to see patients whose issues can only be taken care of in-person. Keeping contagious patients at home also keeps them from spreading germs around the office, which is not only a great benefit for other patients, but staff members as well. Plus, who wants to leave their house when battling a cold or the flu.
Cheaper for patients and provider
Seeing patients virtually means that there is no need for the cost of a facility. Many eVisits are a flat fee of around $40 per visit with no coverage and if the patient’s insurance carrier does provide coverage for eVisits, then they just pay their normal copay. This method also allows for a much simpler billing method since the patient knows up front what they will be paying, and the bill can be easily paid online.
Rural area patients
Patients is rural areas often times do not have access to the same quality of care as patients who live in urban areas. Seeing a doctor via video means that the doctor can be physically located anywhere, so patients can see highly rated primary care physicians or specialists that they did not have access to due to location.
Not as personable
Seeing a physician over video chat vs in-person leads to some physical limitations such as touch and non-verbal cues. So, if the provider does not feel they can adequately asses the patient via a telehealth visit, they will need to refer them to be seen in-person.
Reliability of technology
As with all forms of technology, there are sometimes glitches. Technical difficulties, such as sound or video not working properly, can disrupt a telehealth visit. There are also some security concerns since the visit is done over the computer.
Not always covered by insurance
While the overall cost of the visit is cheaper, many insurance companies still do not fully cover telehealth visits. Because of this, many patients still opt for seeing their provider in person even when it’s not necessary because there is a lower out-of-pocket fee.