Telemedicine

Video telephone products such as Skype and FaceTime are great for keeping in touch – for that student off to college for the first time, for grandparents watching their grandchildren grow, for keeping in touch with loved ones in the military….But what about for a doctor’s appointment?

Telemedicine is a growing field. The global market for telemedicine is expected to be worth more than $34 billion by the end of 2020!

This service is now being offered through local drug stores such as Rite Aid. Imagine going into the store and having a virtual visit with a nurse or doctor for conditions such as allergies, bronchitis, fever, insomnia, nausea or viral illness.

The process would go something like this:

  • You would go into a private room, usually near the pharmacy counter, and register on the computer terminal.
  • You would go through a series of computer-prompted questions to get at the problem or complaint.
  • You then have a video chat with a nurse or physician.
  • You can pick a physician from a list with background information, including specialties and customer reviews, for each physician.
  • You would take your own vitals — such as blood pressure on an automatic cuff — and communicate the results to the doctor.
  • The physician can help guide you to in-person care, if needed, or write a prescription when appropriate.

There’s no charge for virtual consultations with a nurse. If you would rather talk to a physician — or if the nurse advises that you should – you can pay around $45 for a 10-minute visit and enter credit card information. Additional time can be added to the exam for an additional cost. (These systems typically do not accept insurance coverage, though you can submit claims to your plan to get reimbursed.)

Tell us what you think. Do you love the convenience? Would you receive appropriate care? Would you lose touch with your primary care physician? The topics on our forums this month relate to telemedicine and other ways healthcare is spreading outside of the doctor’s office. We would love to hear about your thoughts and experiences!

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