It’s 2 in the morning, work starts in 5 hours and you’ve got a 102 degree fever. What do you do? Most people would have to wait until 8am, call the doctor and get worked in to their schedule sometime during the day, go wait in a waiting room with other sick folks and then go to the pharmacy to pickup their prescription, go home and rest waiting for your Medication to kick in. Welcome to the future of Healthcare. One call and a drive to the pharmacy is all that’s required. The health industry keeps evolving and this evolution comes along with a series of changes.
With the steady rise in the number of new patients who require health coverage, there is a possibility that the medical staff available in hospitals, clinic and other health care centers will be unable to provide the required services to the new patients due to shortages. To combat this, health providers have decided to seek a solution in the technological branch of healthcare. There is no doubt that technology has brought a lot of advancements to the field of medicine and these advancements have made it possible for patients and doctors alike to have easy access to medical information and health care services.
With TeleMedicine you can make a call at 2am when you first wake up with that fever. Tell the operator you need to speak with a doctor. The operator will request that a doctor call you and on average 15 minutes later you’ll get a call from the doctor and can explain your symptoms. The doctor will determine if a prescription is necessary and have it sent to the pharmacy you have on file. There is no cost for the call, no waiting at a doctor’s office and no sharing germs with other sick individuals at the doctor’s office.
Telemedicine is growing field which is concerned with the exchange of medical information through electronic communications. This information disseminated through this platform can be accessed by both service providers and consumers thereby enhancing communication. Telemedicine offers a unique, cost effective approach to medicine and health care which is tailored to suit the urgent needs of patients while reducing inordinate expenses.
The advent of Telemedicine has made it easy for doctors to review the medical history of patients and create a treatment plan after proper diagnosis. Through the monitoring systems set up, doctors can also monitor the recovery of patients and their response to treatment. Telemedicine also offers several different support groups for patients suffering from one illness or the other to meet up and socialize with individuals with similar experiences. Other benefits of telemedicine include:
1. Easy access to health care.
2. Increase in efficiency
3. Increase in quality of service provided.
4. Reduced health care service costs.
6. Extended access to specialists and professional care in rural communities.
Reduced healthcare service cost is likely one of the key benefits that encourage patients to use Telemedicine services. MedCard, a service that offers telemedicine, offers $0 co-pay consultations 24 hours a day via phone or video for a flat rate of $12.95 a month for a family. Compare that to the cost of a urgent care visit that urgentway.com says averages $97.00 a visit (after insurance discounts) and the savings becomes clear.
Most companies are starting to offer TeleMedicine plans to their employees as a way to cut down on sick days and help employees recover faster. If you’re self employed or your employer doesn’t offer this coverage there are ways to buy plans yourself. You can usually purchase TeleMedicine plans directly through the company’s themselves but I’ve found that’s its usually more affordable to purchase them from Corporate Benefit Administrators. These are plans that offer a number of services to self insured individuals. Many of them are non profit organizations and offer several benefits at one price. One such organization is The Alliance for Affordable Services. The Alliance has packages that start as little as $10 a month and includes a popular TeleMedicine provider, Teladoc. Teladoc allows you to call a doctor 24/7 and offers all types of doctors. You can also video conference with doctors if you prefer or if you have a condition that requires the doctor to see you.
If you’re older than 30 you likely remember the old “I’ve fallen and can’t get up commercials”. While it may be an over played somewhat funny commercial, they really did have a great product that has helped countless seniors through the years. The original “fallen and can’t get up” monitor isn’t the only player on the block anymore. These devices have really evolved into all around medical monitoring devices, able to monitor all types of patient stats with unlimited range outside of the home.
As Medicare plan insurers try to compete in a very competitive market many are starting to include these systems as part of their extra benefits. Often this is at no extra charge to the insured. Anthem insurance currently allows new Medicare beneficiaries that join their Advantage plans a choice of several extra benefits. One of those extra benefits is a medical alert system with monitoring cost covered by Anthem, as long as you are enrolled in one of their qualified plans. Some of the top manufacturers of medical alert devices right now include:
- Philips Lifeline
- Mobile Help ADT
- Greatcall Alert-1
- Tunstall Life Alert
- Connect America
- Rescue Alert Bay
- Medical Guardian
- Lifefone Galaxy
- Medical Alert
- Systems Better
Checkout caring.com’s recent post ranking some of these systems by features, upfront cost and monthly monitoring cost.
Regardless of whether you personally use these technologies yourself, the benefits of medical alert systems and telemedicine (especially in regards to healthcare shortages) effect us all.