Parents of young children, adults acting as caregivers for other adults, and busy workers with health problems of their own have one thing in common: With busy schedules and time coordination issues, it’s not always easy to seek medical care, either for themselves or for others.
According to a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia survey, 7 out every 10 moms report spending more than two hours on each doctor visit.
One hundred percent of the moms surveyed said they want 24-hour access to doctors and other health care providers, and 80% said they want to learn more about how telehealth services can help them deal with non-emergency medical issues.
Telehealth gives people a more convenient alternative to in-person health care visits, with direct access to quality medical care from any mobile device or computer. Health care-on-demand is important: 65% of moms said it’s more important than streaming video or food delivery, and 61% said health technology innovations would help their children live healthier lives.
Other caregivers, and patients, probably have similar needs and priorities.
Care on Patients’ Schedule
Even today, many people are unable to reach their doctors’ offices when they need care. That situation is likely to worsen as the shortage of primary care doctors now anticipated becomes a reality. Emergency departments will be more crowded. Costs will continue to rise.
Telehealth is an effective way to solve this problem. It can give busy people a simple way to find out if that cough might be the first tickles of the common cold or an upper respiratory infection. Now they can simply pick up the phone to find out if a fever, ear pain or skin abrasion may require urgent attention or a little TLC at home.
As mobile technology evolves, it has become a new tool that helps patients manage, track and access health information for themselves and the family.
Here’s what you should look for in a telehealth provider:
Network of physicians: Financial professionals should look for a service that provides access to medical care through a reliable, high-quality telehealth physician network.
Variety of health care tools: Make sure the telehealth service provides access to a variety of health care tools, not just live doctor consults, because not every situation or question requires a live consultation. The service should also offer a 24/7 nurse line service and an email-a-doctor service, so the patient can reach a real nurse or doctor advice without incurring additional fees. The service should, of course, include live video or voice consults with a doctor, so the patient can get quick answers to questions.
Convenient access to care: The service should allow the patient to simply log in from the patient’s phone, tablet or computer. The doctors available should be able to send prescriptions to a pharmacy near the patient.
Low annual cost: A family subscription to a high-quality telehealth service can be available for as little as $100 a year.
Near zero wait time: A high-quality telehealth service should be able to make a call or video chat with a doctor or nurse available in less than 10 minutes, and an email response available within 24 hours.
Arif Razvi is the co-founder of Hello Alvin, an online service that gives customers online access and phone access to the Teladoc provider network.