Employee Benefits

Phone a Friend? Better Yet, Phone a Doctor!

Jeff Kirke
Jeff Kirke
Vice President, Employee Benefits

You may have heard the term telemedicine. It’s a buzzword in the healthcare industry, and its popularity is gaining momentum. If you’ve heard about it, but aren’t quite sure what it is…let me tell you (you can also check out Travis Dent’s recent blog). Telemedicine refers to the practice of using telecommunications technology (think phone, Skype, etc.) to evaluate, diagnose, and care for patients at a distance. Although the approach has been around for decades in a limited fashion, it’s quickly becoming an important and mainstream channel of healthcare delivery in the United States.

A couple of factors are contributing to the reason there’s more widespread adoption of this healthcare trend:

  • The prevalence of high-speed Internet access
  • Mobile devices

If you’re reading this blog, you have at least one of these…and so do the majority of Americans.

Additionally, the Affordable Care Act has made it possible for approximately 16 million more people to become insured and, in order to service them, the healthcare system must become more efficient. Another factor: the aging population. By 2050, the U.S. is expected to have 83 million people over age 65. Telehealth has a large role to play in providing efficient and cost-effective care to this portion of the population.

Now, if you’re wondering whether telemedicine is right for you, take a look at these stats:

  • 70 percent of all physician visits can be handled over the phone
  • 40 percent of urgent care visits can be managed by using telehealth

Kind of shocking, right? Though, in the scheme of things, maybe it isn’t if you really think about it. Say, for instance, you’re not feeling well…you have a fever and a cough. Instead of getting out of bed and trudging to the doctor’s office (or worse yet, waiting for an appointment), wouldn’t it be easier to phone a doctor? Not to mention, today’s consumer can’t get easy access to healthcare and the average appointment wait for all doctors’ visits is over 20 days. The result is patients flood to emergency rooms unnecessarily to the tune of 141 million visits. Wow!

If you’re hoping to save time and money, while looking for an alternative way to manage your health and that of your employees, telemedicine may be just the answer. Ask us about it! We have the expertise at Holmes Murphy to answer any questions you may have.

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