How Telemedicine Saved Me Time, Money, and Anxiety
No one likes being sick, but you know what is worse than being sick? Having to lug yourself to the doctor with a head cold and a runny nose. We’ve all been there – when you know you have something that is not going to take care of itself and you have to drag your feverish body to your primary care physician or your local urgent care. Heck, I was there last week – sick, tired, and in need of some medication I knew only an RX could fill.But this time I didn’t even have to get out of bed to see a doctor. That’s right, no waiting rooms, paperwork, or germy old magazines for me. I used telemedicine. Telemedicine is a growing practice that allows physicians and other health professionals like therapists to examine, diagnose, and treat patients from a distance. Usually through a video chat or a phone call, a medical professional can give you medical advice and even write prescriptions for you from miles away.
I downloaded the Teladoc app, filled out my basic insurance information, and was talking to a doctor in less than 15 minutes. I pretty much knew what I had, so I described my issue to the doctor, and he prescribed me medication to pick up at my local pharmacy. The whole appointment took only five minutes, and I didn’t even have to leave my couch.
The experience of seeing a doctor can be extremely anxiety-inducing for a lot of people, myself includedNow, I wouldn’t exactly say I have iatrophobia (the fear of doctors), but I have cried my fair share in a doctor’s office. However, this experience was nothing like the ones before. Being in the comfort of my own home went a long way in reducing my anxiety about it all. In fact, I am almost looking forward to my next appointment!
Not only was the experience extremely convenient, but it was supremely inexpensive. The appointment cost me only $45, and they even told me the price before I scheduled a call with the doctor. For reference, last time I had this exact same health problem, I went to an urgent care nearby and was charged exactly $210. That is over 450 percent more expensive! Even if you don’t have health insurance, you can still save money and hassle using telemedicine. Many companies accept uninsured patients–Doctor on Demand, for instance, has a flat rate of $75 for uninsured customers.
What makes telemedicine so great is that it puts (at least some) power back in the hands of the consumer. Unlike a traditional doctor’s visit, where you don’t know the price of the visit until it is over, telehealth companies give you information up front about what a visit is going to cost. By no means does this market have “perfect information,” but at least it is getting us one step closer. With more telemedicine companies getting into the market, the healthcare industry (possibly for the first time ever) could start to see some meaningful competition. This healthcare model allows you and I the freedom to choose when (many offer appointments 27/4), where (your mobile device allows you to call a doctor from your couch, your office, your bathroom floor, etc.), and with whom (only want a lady doctor? There is a feature for that) you make an appointment. And that is a welcome change in healthcare.
Telemedicine is certainly not suited for everything. I mean, it’s no good if you have a broken arm or need surgery, but it can be used for a lot of things. You can get diagnosed and prescribed medications for common illnesses like pink eye or urinary tract infections (UTIs), you can receive counseling and therapy, and you can make a virtual appointment with a dermatologist for acne and skin issues. My telemedicine service even offers STI tests with results that are sent directly to your email.
Like I said at the beginning, no one likes being sick, but at least your experience can be a little better (and cheaper!) next time if you try out telemedicine.