As a self-funded employer concerned by the rising cost of health benefits, what should you know about telemedicine?

The Alliance is bringing telemedicine and consumer engagement experts to its July 16 Alliance Learning Circle to answer that question. In the meantime, here are 10 things you should know about how
telemedicine is changing health care.

  1. It’s “unstoppable.” Many national experts have conceded that telemedicine is here to stay, despite ongoing debates about how it should be licensed and regulated at the state and national level.
  2. It typically costs less, although savings can vary. Teladoc, a leading telemedicine vendor, says it achieves an average savings of $673 per claim when a telemedicine visit for
    minor ailments is compared to an in-person visit.
  3. It’s more than one kind of care. Telemedicine is a broad term that covers many different types of health care services that are delivered remotely. The American Telemedicine Association describes telemedicine as “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a
    patient’s clinical health status.”
  4. It’s moving to the workplace. Health care providers are piloting worksite kiosks that enable video chats between the patient and the doctor. Some kiosks are equipped with devices for simple medical tests, such as taking your blood pressure. Kiosks and other telemedicine approaches can be integrated with an existing online clinic or used
    to launch onsite care.
  5. A $49 price tag is common for primary care offered directly to consumers via telemedicine.  Walgreens and Cleveland Clinic are among the providers that charge $49 for telemedicine visits.
  6. When family members can’t be at the bedside of a critically-ill family member,  some hospitals now provide updates via telemedicine. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia uses an iPad, video camera and telehealth software to let family members see and hear doctors as they make “rounds” in the intensive care unit.
  7. Rural hospitals and skilled nursing facilities use telemedicine to connect patients to doctors without forcing them to travel for specialist care.
  8. It’s a quick solution for minor ailments. Teladoc says the average wait time to see a doctor is 18.5 days, which compares to Teladoc’s 8-minute average wait time for a primary care telemedicine visit.
  9. Most people can connect. When broadband Internet access is lacking, patients may be able to connect via cellular phone or satellite signals.   But there are some remote areas where connections remain challenging or unavailable.
  10. It’s growing fast. Telemedicine vendors are partnering with health care systems, national pharmacy chains, employers and other groups to create new options for consumers. Meanwhile, health care professionals continue to find new ways to use telemedicine to improve access to care. Revenue from the U.S. telehealth market is expected to grow from $240 million in 2013 to $1.9 billion by 2018, according to IHS, an information and analytics form. That means telemedicine is likely coming soon to a computer, tablet or smartphone near you.
Darla Dernovsek
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Darla Dernovsek

Marketing Communications Manager at The Alliance
Darla Dernovsek joined The Alliance in 2013 as marketing communications manager. Dernovsek is responsible for managing and developing communication strategies as well as marketing plans to help fulfill The Alliance mission by raising market awareness.

Dernovsek has more than 25 years' experience in communications, public relations and marketing. From 1992 until joining The Alliance, Dernovsek owned her own freelance marketing and writing business to provide marketing consulting and writing for health-care related entities and credit union organizations. Earlier, she was the director of public relations for Rockford Memorial Hospital and city editor for the Beloit Daily News.

Dernovsek graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.

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