Telemedicine has become an increasingly popular option over the last few years. Many people tried telemedicine for the first time in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to access medical professionals. Even when pandemic restrictions eased, this modern approach to medicine showed no signs of slowing down. Here are five reasons why you should consider making the switch to telemedicine if you haven’t already.
1. It’s Convenient
When you’re sick, one of the last things you probably want to do is actually go to the doctor’s office. First, you have to call and set up an appointment. And that assumes there’s even one available! Then you have to get dressed, drive there, and sit in a waiting room with other sick patients. Not only is this a hassle when you’re already feeling terrible, but it interferes with getting the rest you need.
This process is especially inconvenient for those who need to find childcare or can’t afford to take time off work. Plus, what if there is no doctor available for you to see that day? Prolonging a visit may serve to worsen symptoms and the issues that underlie them.
Convenience is just one of the reasons why seeing an online doctor is so beneficial. Depending on your specific needs, you could potentially speak to a doctor within the hour. You may be able to get a professional diagnosis and prescription without even leaving your bed.
2. It’s Affordable
Many Americans have probably avoided going to the doctor at least once because of the price. You may just recover and feel fine the next day, after all. But sometimes a minor issue can drag on for days or weeks at a time. As noted, lingering symptoms may be signs of a deeper problem.
Thankfully, telemedicine is generally more affordable than in-person visits. A 2017 Health Affairs study found that the average telemedicine visit costs roughly $79 compared to $146, the average cost of an office visit. That’s nearly half the price!
It should be noted that the affordability of telemedicine does not come at the cost of its effectiveness. If you choose to use telemedicine, you will still be seeing a licensed and actively practicing medical professional. You do not have to sacrifice the quality of your care for convenience. In fact, you may even find that your online doctor can provide you with more resources than your local doctor.
3. It’s Wide-Ranging
Another amazing feature of telemedicine is that it increases the range of your healthcare network. This is a boon whether you live in a densely populated city or a sparsely populated rural area. As long as you have an internet connection, you can potentially reach doctors you may never have had access to. They may even be located in a different time zone altogether!
If you live in a city, there may actually be too many options to filter through. This can make finding the right doctor for you feel overwhelming. With telemedicine service providers, you can search online for various doctors who have the expertise you need. They may also be able to refer you to someone closer to your area for testing or other follow-up appointments.
If you live in a rural area, you may only have access to one doctor, if any at all. In this case, telemedicine may be a literal lifesaver. It can be a cost saver, too. An unnecessary trip to a faraway hospital can be pricey. Telemedicine allows you to consult with a medical professional first to determine whether you need to seek immediate attention.
4. It’s Connected
Any doctor you see will make recommendations, but ultimately what you do with their recommendations is up to you. It can be confusing to process medical information, especially if you have a particularly difficult diagnosis. As children, we had our parents to guide our medical visits; as grownups, we usually go it alone.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of telemedicine is the ability to connect with your support network. Not feeling confident about a doctor’s advice or just need someone to be there with you? With your consent, some telemedicine services allow you to dial an available friend or family member directly into your medical call.
The difference between a visit with and without support can be night and day. That’s especially true if there is a chance you may receive an upsetting diagnosis or test results. And a 15- to 45-minute Zoom meeting is far easier to coordinate with your helper than a physical visit to your doctor’s office.
5. It’s Ongoing
Telemedicine isn’t limited to one-time visits. It’s a great solution for those who need ongoing support as well. Chronic conditions are insidious. They can take months or years to resolve, if they ever do. That’s all the more reason to find a dedicated professional whose medical opinion you can trust.
Depending on your condition, there may only be a handful of specialists that exist. Telemedicine can increase your ability to connect with those specialists. You may even be able to receive help from doctors in another state, depending on existing regulations.
Again, those in rural areas might be especially challenged when searching for a chronic disease specialist. What will you do if you or a loved one needs special treatment, and there’s only one general practitioner nearby? Telemedicine helps bridge a gap that might be otherwise insurmountable.
Telemedicine Is Here to Stay
As of February 2022, more than one in five Americans had used telemedicine in the previous four weeks. In fact, it’s likely that someone you know is a telemedicine patient right now.
Accessing an online doctor has never been easier. There are a multitude of available resources at your disposal to help you access the right care today. All you need is a computer and an internet connection to get started.