The skeptics’ guide to telemedicine


If you’ve been going to a doctor’s office for your entire life whenever you had a health problem, it’s hard to wrap your mind around the concept of telemedicine. But once you understand the benefits of virtual healthcare, you won’t be able to look back.

Here are some key facts to help you get a better sense of telemedicine and how physicians and online counselors can help you stay healthy, while saving time and money.  

It’s not just for the youth

New data shows that Millennials are about 20 percent more likely to use telemedicine than seniors because their appetite for convenience. However, baby-boomers are becoming increasingly interested in telemedicine, which was proven effective in managing chronic conditions. Patients with diabetes, Alzheimer, multiple sclerosis or cancer juggle doctor visits, tests, medications and meal planning. Medical video allows them to see a wide range of specialists from the comfort of their home and avoid unnecessary and costly emergency room visits. One recent study also showed that tele-health was associated with up to a 30 percent reduction in hospital admissions for patients with heart failure and diabetes.

It’s covered by health insurance

More insurers are leveraging telemedicine to drive costs down. And so far, 38 states have passed bills that ask insurance companies to cover telemedicine in one way or another. Some of the largest health insurers in the U.S. such as Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield or United Healthcare now offer their members access to telemedicine services. What’s more, 74 percent of employers offered this type of medical care in 2018, a huge rise from 27 percent in 2015.

It’s just as effective as in-office visits

There’s mounting evidence that telemedicine care is just as effective as in-office visits whether we’re talking about diagnosing stroke, treating bulimia or managing Parkinson. Dermatologists in particular find this innovative technology to be an effective method for generating a diagnosis and treatment plan for acute and chronic skin disease.


But the real power of telemedicine is best showcased in the area of mental health.

Online counseling or tele-psychiatry leads to similar improvements as face-to-face interaction with a therapist. Thanks to tele-psychiatry, mental health care is now available to people who need it most. We’re talking about patients with disabilities, those living in rural areas where there’s a shortage of therapists, busy professionals or people who simply aren’t comfortable talking to a counselor face-to-face.

It’s not costly

Telemedicine is cheap. All you need is a phone or a computer connected to the Internet. It’s also a good way to save your days off. There’s no need to miss a day from work or hire someone to watch the children or elderly parents. Video-chatting with doctors also saves money on travel expenses such as gas, parking, and public transportation.  

Most telemedicine providers have much smaller flat fees than a co-pay to an out-of-network provider. A visit with Me MD, for instance, costs close to 60$, while Better Help charges between $40 and $70 per week for their online mental counseling.

Telemedicine might seem impersonal and learning to use technology can be a challenge at first, yet the benefits of virtual healthcare highly outweigh the downsides.


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