Do you remember when you were a kid and our mom would call your family doctor to discuss symptoms over the phone? The doctor would prescribe a course of treatment and sometimes call in a prescription to the local pharmacy, right? Why doesn't that happen anymore? In a nutshell: because healthcare has changed! When I share the freshbenies call a doctor service and how they can get a prescription over the phone (if needed), I usually get responses like "is that legal?" and “my doctor always makes me come in for a prescription” and "they can't do that!" And I always reply with, "oh yes...they can! And, it's awesome!" It's called telemedicine.
The American Medical Association agrees, too. They say about 70% of doctor, emergency room and urgent care center visits could be handled over the phone. This makes a lot of sense considering we all have the same "parts" that break down the same way over and over again!
Today, “telemedicine” might seem cutting edge, but millions of Americans are currently using it.
Obviously, you shouldn’t call a doctor if you have a severed arm situation, but let's look at 5 ways it can help you...
1). You can stay at work
Here's a common story: your allergies are in full flair, you feel like crap, you have back-to-back meetings and a ginormous project due. Where are you going to squeeze in a doctor appointment? And playing phone tag with the doctor's office between meetings is inevitable.
How about this story instead? A friend who works 80 hours a week was having horrible sinus and ear pain for 5 days. She finally took the time to call a doctor on a Sunday at 6:45am. As a result, she had a great visit, a diagnosis if sinus and ear infections, and 2 meds in her bloodstream by the time she got to church!
2) You can stay at home
Let's be honest, when it's coming out "both ends" (oh, come on - we've all been there!), the last place you want to be is a waiting room for 30+ minutes. And, packing up all the kids to get one in for a visit is not “good times” for Mom! Not to mention exposing the healthy kids to the germ-infested waiting room. It’s natural that kids and adults feel better and heal better in jammies and a cozy bed than a waiting room!
3) You can avoid the waiting room
Speaking of waiting rooms, 3 things happen there that I like to avoid at all costs: a) waiting, b) waiting next to people who may or may not be sicker than me and c) waiting next to people who may or may not be sicker than me while scanning 3 year old Time magazines. If you have a yeast infection, you'd certainly like to avoid all that by having a doctor visit from underneath your cozy duvet!
If you haven’t heard, due to healthcare reform, the US doctor shortage is expected to get much worse in the coming years. This will increase our waiting room time. Click here to read more!
4) You can get advice or a second opinion
Sometimes you just want to avoid the WebMD death spiral (“my head hurts, I’ll check WebMD….OMG, I have brain cancer!!”) and get real medical advice quickly. The other day, my friend told me her mom had Shingles and she wasn't sure if her kids should visit. She was able to pickup the phone and had a full 15 minute visit with a doctor about all the implications. She said it had been a long time since she'd had a conversation with a doctor.
The doctors say the same thing! Many love being a "call a doctor" because it allows them to take time and talk with patients about their concerns vs. having to rush from room to room of waiting, paper-gown clad patients.
5) You can actually talk to a doctor
With a “call a doctor” service, you’re talking to a real doctor. While we love the Nurse Line, sometimes it’s hard to get your questions answered and many times they end up referring you back to a doctor.
Many Americans live in remote areas making it much harder to get good medical care. And some live in towns that have a low doctor to patient ratio.
Most telemedicine companies have stringent requirements for their “call a doctors” (multiple years of experience, board-certified, state-licensed, US-based, special training for diagnosing over the phone/video, etc.) to ensure they deliver a great experience. For some, a telemedicine visit may be the best medical care they’ve received in a long time!
Average cost of a doctor visit in the USA: $100. Scheduling and getting to an appointment: 6 hours. Calling a doctor on your schedule, from the comfort of your home: priceless.
About the author: Heidi has a passion for helping busy families save time, money and frustration. She writes articles to do just that, while keeping it fun and simple for her readers! She also speaks on healthcare issues and is the owner of www.freshbenies.com.
About freshbenies: freshbenies (www.freshbenies.com) helps employers and employees take the headache out of healthcare with telehealth, doctors online, advocacy, Rx savings (and more)…all in one easy-to-use card.