A virtual consult can be as good as seeing a doc in person — for real.
Telemedicine isn’t new — considering that medical consultations were likely conducted by telegraph as far back as the Civil War, say researchers. But the telemedicine of today, which offers video, phone, chat and other digital means of connecting with a medical provider, is still a foreign concept to many. Here are the truths behind three common myths.
Telemed myth #1: The treatment won’t be accurate.
Research suggests that virtual consults are comparable to office visits for many health conditions. Authors of a study published in Health Affairs reviewed nearly 40,000 telemedicine interactions and found antibiotic use to be similar to that of in-person visits. The New England Journal of Medicine also reported that birth control dispensed via telemedicine adhered to CDC guidelines at possibly an even higher rate (93%) than in-person providers. Other studies have proven diagnosis and treatment to be on par with (and sometimes better than) in-person care in dermatology and mental health.
Some doctors are even relying on telemedicine in the ER. Georgetown University tested a tele-intake process at a hospital emergency room and found no significant difference between the lab tests, scans and pharmacy orders done between tele- and in-person intake doctors.
Telemed myth #2: No one’s using it.
While it’s true that telemedicine consults aren’t close to eclipsing in-person doctor visits, they are gaining in popularity— both among those who have used virtual care, and who are up for trying it.
A 2018 Deloitte survey showed that almost 25% of consumers have had a virtual visit with a doctor or a nurse, and nearly 60% of those who haven’t would be willing to. Another study showed that utilization grew 53% between 2016 and 2017 alone — more than any other place of service that researchers measured for growth. Based on these findings, if you don’t know anyone who has used telemedicine yet, you likely will soon.
Telemed myth #3: It’s hard to access.
Actually, your employer-sponsored health plan may offer it, as well as telemedicine companies that work directly with patients with or without insurance.
Check with your employer. Telemedicine as a workplace health perk is becoming more common. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently reported that 69% of firms with 50 or more workers now offer it as part of their benefits package.
Even if you don’t have access through insurance, many telemedicine companies accept patients without coverage, offering care at lower prices than most in-person visits. With Blink Health, for example, you can get affordable consultations with a licensed medical professional for erectile dysfunction, hair loss, contraceptive needs (Rx refills only) and high cholesterol (Rx refills only) — with more conditions available in the future.*
*Restrictions and subscription may apply. Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 536 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012, (844) 366–2211, www.blinkhealth.com