Telemedicine: A New Approach to Health Care

Sometimes it’s hard to find time to see a doctor when you work full-time and sometimes easy access to medical care isn’t available. A new mode of health care delivery called telemedicine makes it easier to get advice and treatment for minor health problems. Discover the benefits of telemedicine.

Minor illnesses always seem to strike at the most inconvenient times – on the weekend, when you’re on vacation and when you can’t reach your regular doctor. In the past, when your doctor wasn’t available, you would have to reach an on-call doctor or make a trip to a local urgent care center or emergency room where you might wait for an hour or more to be seen and be in a noisy, often chaotic environment. That’s frustrating, especially when you don’t feel good!  What if it’s the weekend and you’re in a remote area where you don’t have access to a walk-in clinic or emergency room?

The Rise of Telemedicine

These days, there’s an alternative health care model that’s growing in popularity – telemedicine. With telemedicine, you can consult with a doctor without the inconvenience of traveling to a physical location or sitting in a waiting room for hours. Telemedicine doctors are trained to deliver medical consultations by phone or using other technology such as video and consultations are available 24 hours a day 365 days of the year. You can consult with an experienced physician in the comfort of your home.

Telemedicine consults aren’t meant to replace primary care doctors but to provide care for minor medical problems that can be treated without a face -to-face visit. Some of the most common problems telemedicine doctors treat include colds, fever, sore throat, poison ivy, diarrhea, hay fever, bladder infections, yeast infections, pink eye, nausea and minor injuries.

Obviously, telemedicine isn’t appropriate for serious and life-threatening conditions or situations where a physical exam is necessary, but many health issues, as many as two-thirds, that pop up are minor and can be resolved without a face-to-face consult and exam. Telemedicine is an affordable and cost-effective approach to dealing with health problems that aren’t serious or life-threatening. The main benefits of telemedicine? It’s fast, convenient and affordable and a health care delivery system that’s growing rapidly.

The Anatomy of a Telemedicine Consultation

How does a telemedicine consultation work? When you register with a telemedicine site, you’ll be asked to provide information about your medical history, drug allergies and any medications you’re taking, so telemedicine doctors that you consult with in the future will have this information. When you call for a consultation, your request is activated and put into the system, and a physician calls back shortly, usually within 10 minutes.

After taking a short history and discussing your problem with you, the physician will make treatment recommendations and, when appropriate, write a prescription. In general, telemedicine physicians can’t prescribe controlled medications like narcotics, sedatives and muscle relaxants or medications that require close monitoring. These medications are best prescribed by a physician who can follow your progress closely over a longer period of time. Telemedicine doctors can also answer any questions that you might have.

Telemedicine is Convenient

When you can’t get in to see your doctor quickly enough or simply don’t have the time to make the trip from your home or workplace to your physician’s office, telemedicine is there for you. Most physician offices have set hours and sometimes health issues crop up after the office is closed. In some cases, telemedicine can save you from making the trek to an emergency room for a problem that could be easily solved over the phone. Knowing you can get a medical consultation by phone offers added reassurance and peace of mind, especially if you lead a busy lifestyle.

When you work full-time, it’s hard to get in to see a doctor. That’s why a growing number of employers are embracing telemedicine and providing their employees with access to this service. Employees love the convenience of getting medical guidance from an experienced physician without leaving their home or place of employment. Telemedicine physicians can also write work excuses should you need to miss work due to illness or injury.

The Bottom Line

Telemedicine offers fast and affordable medical consultations from highly trained, board certified physicians. While not a replacement for your primary care doctor, telemedicine is there for you 24/7 when you need consultation for a non-emergency health problem.




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