Virtual doctor’s visits from your smartphone aren’t just “the next big thing.” Telemedicine is here to stay, and it is quickly becoming more widely accepted, and more commonly offered, around the globe. In fact, research shows that the innovative technology that makes reliable medical care available anytime and anywhere is only expanding.
Patients Want Convenience
Convenience is a major reason why telemedicine services are “gaining popularity,” The Lima News reported. When you can pay your bills, do your banking and perform numerous other tasks 24/7 from the comfort of your own home, shouldn’t medical care work that way, too? In this case, the reality is as good as the expectation, with 93 percent of patients surveyed expressing satisfaction with their virtual doctor visit.
Popularity Beyond the Patient Population
It isn’t only patients who are eagerly joining the telehealth movement. Insurance companies are increasingly covering telehealth services, since allowing patients to put their insurance coverage toward a virtual doctor rather than a face-to-face appointment saves money, Becker’s Hospital Review reported. Over the past three years, the number of employers who offer telehealth coverage has risen significantly, with 74 percent of large employers now covering the service, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported. Employers are seeing savings in the form of less waste due to workers needing to take additional time off for medical care.
How Telehealth Saves Money
If all traditional doctor visits and urgent care trips were done online instead, American companies could save as much as $6 billion, the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington reported. Health insurer Anthem reported that for every medical episode in which its policyholders used telehealth service LiveHealth Online instead of seeing a doctor face-to-face, there was a savings of $201.
How can telemedicine bring down costs so drastically? The cost of traditional medicine is marked up considerably, then negotiated down by a health insurance company. There are other costs a medical provider must cover, such as office space, equipment, and administrative costs. Telehealth services eliminate overhead costs without compromising quality of care.
The Future of Telemedicine
Financial experts expect the telehealth industry to keep on growing, increasing by a 15.7 percent compound annual growth rate between 2018 and 2025. Today, almost everyone has a smartphone, and healthcare is one of many industries that are making their services mobile-friendly.