Across the country and here in the Pacific Northwest, communities are slowly reopening businesses and commerce as part of phased COVID-19 recovery plans. While these lifted restrictions mean that individuals can resume some work and personal interactions, government leaders are urging all Americans still to practice safe social distancing practices and sanitation habits when in public. Better yet, Americans are encouraged to continue working and staying at home when possible.
Telemedicine is emerging during the COVID-19 crisis and recovery period not just as a temporary response to stay-at-home mandates, but as a short-term safety measure and a long-term convenience. For immunocompromised or at-risk individuals, traveling to a physician’s office even during the COVID-19 recovery phase may seem like it could produce unnecessary health risk exposure. For all others, telemedicine has proved to be a safe and convenient way to seek medical guidance for many non-life threatening health concerns.
If you are new to the idea of seeking virtual medical care, consider these five benefits of choosing telemedicine when appropriate.
Busy parents, schedule-packed executives, cramming college students, and over-committed entrepreneurs all agree that there is never enough time in the day. All medical appointments require advanced scheduling within limited windows of availability that includes commuting time, a forced break from work, family, and other responsibilities to get to the appointment, time in the waiting room and with the provider, and then time to commute home or back to the office. Essentially, mid-day appointments are productivity disruptors. Telemedicine appointments break the cycle of interruptions by requiring only the time it takes to speak with your physician: no commuting, no waiting room, no lost productivity.
Telemedicine offers several forms of cost savings. These include fewer lost wages due to less time away from the office (especially if you schedule your appointment before or after work or during your lunch break), fewer gas miles, and no parking lot or garage fees. Save your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) dollars for appointments and prescription drug copays instead of traveling expenses. For those with eldercare responsibilities, at-home doctor visits mean you also don’t need to spend on childcare or eldercare services so you can travel to your appointment.
Not everyone has the convenience of being able to walk or take a short drive to their doctor’s office. For individuals who live in rural areas, particularly in BestMed’s service areas of Northwestern Oregon and Montana, a round trip to the doctor’s office may require spending an hour or more in the car. Without having to leave the house, telemedicine makes accessing high-quality health care much more accessible for patients living in rural or remote settings. Telemedicine also alleviates the burden of seeking out transportation to appointments for those who do not own a vehicle or live close to affordable public transit.
Depending on the reason for your appointment, your physician may request to see you again for a follow-up visit. Such requests mean yet more of the inconveniences listed above—lost time, money, and transportation hassles—for in-person visits, but not for telemedicine visits.
Every physician’s office is highly sanitized, but it’s simply not possible to eliminate germs from an office space that sick patients visit to seek care. If you have ever felt that you caught a cold or the flu after going to your doctor’s office for a routine exam, you’re not alone. Telemedicine eliminates your exposure to fellow patients who might be carriers of airborne illnesses. In the era of COVID-19, this risk mitigation is crucial to our nation’s efforts to beat the virus.
If you’re still unsure if you might be comfortable trying this new form of healthcare, know that many patients who have participated in a telemedicine visit—both before and during the COVID-19 crisis—would express all the benefits listed above as well as others. According to a 2019 patient satisfaction survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, satisfaction with the telemedicine experience among its users ranks among the highest of any consumer category studied by J.D. Power. Among those surveyed, 84 percent were able to resolve their medical concern completely during their visit, 73 percent did not experience any issues with the service, and 87 percent felt the enrollment process was easy.
To learn more about telemedicine and how it can save you time and money, minimize your health risk, and enable a private and informative healthcare visit with a care provider you know and trust, watch the video below or click here to schedule an appointment with BestMed.