According to a new survey by HealthMine, 41 percent of consumers have not heard of telemedicine. If you work in health care industry, that might be hard to believe. This is particularly suprising because there’s a fueling interest in telemedicine and has the potential to transform the way medical care is provided in many areas of the country. Telemedicine services could bring as much as $6 billion annually in health care savings.
So what is telemedicine or telehealth?
Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, defines telemedicine as “the delivery of any health care service or transmission of wellness information using telecommunications technology.” The term “telehealth,” on the other hand, is often used interchangeably with telemedicine, but doesn’t necessarily involve clinical services. It can include patient education or mobile health apps that engage patients in their care, for instance.
Apps such as Amwell™, Doctor on Demand, HealthTap, HelloMD, and LiveHealth Online are just a few that are creating a more competitive marketplace for health and wellness services. Telemedicine, and remote health care in general, lower costs by increasing preventative care, reducing time to access, and reducing fuel consumption by eliminating unnecessary trips to a medical practice. These apps and sites—and others like them—are truly revolutionizing health care.
Here are three medical, health, and wellness apps and online services that are of particular interest.
Doctor On Demand lets you see a doctor for a video consultation, have that doctor write you a prescription, or just get your questions answered. New to Doctor On Demand is the ability to see a psychologist and have a lactation consultation. Board-certified physicians can treat non-emergency medical issues such as cold and flu symptoms, urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, allergies, sports injuries, back pain, and heartburn, as well as many pediatric issues.
Available on Android, iOS, Web
LiveHealth Online lets you see a doctor via video call and even get a prescription written based on that virtual visit in states where it’s allowed. One differentiator with LiveHealth Online is that the service accepts some insurance plans, so you may owe the same co-pay as if you went into the doctor’s office. Each consultation is a flat $49 if you have no coverage, if your plan doesn’t cover online visits, or if you haven’t met your plan’s deductible.
Available on Android, iOS, and Web
Amwell™ provides telemedicine services that enable patients and physicians to consult remotely. Patients and doctors can see each other via webcam, as well as communicate by text, email, or phone. The service can provide patients with medical consultation off hours with specialists who are in short supply, and help monitor chronic conditions.
Available on Android, iOS, Web
Using telehealth solutions could be a key method for addressing shortages of primary care physicians or specialists. Many rural areas may not have many doctors to offer a variety of in-house services. As such, telemedicine tools could be a way for patients to speak to top specialists around the country. However, they should not replace patient-doctor interaction with your regular provider. Without the physical ability to touch the patient, the doctor is limited in the care they can provide. Telemedicine is a tool meant to complement existing health care methods, not replace them.