How Telemedicine Is Changing The Way People Get Routine Health Care
Tufts Health Plan is putting choice, convenience, and cost savings in the palm of our members’ hands.
It seems like medical issues always happen at the least convenient time possible: Your toddler spikes a fever while you’re away visiting the grandparents for the holidays. You come down with a sore throat during crunch-time at work. Your psoriasis flares up just in time for the weekend, when you can’t reach your doctor. So, what do you do? You’re stuck either rearranging your plans and scheduling an appointment with your doctor, going to urgent care or the ER—where you can expect a long wait and a big bill—or going without the medical care that you need.
But telehealth is changing all that. With telehealth (or telemedicine, as it’s sometimes called), patients can get consultation and care for non-emergency medical concerns by web, phone, or mobile app, from any location. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting to the doctor’s office, sit in a crowded waiting room full of sick people, or even leave the comfort and privacy of your own home. Tufts Health Plan is one of many health plans now offering telemedicine. Through our partner Teladoc®, members1 can get treatment for general medical, behavioral health, or dermatology services whenever they need it, often for the same cost as a PCP visit.
Some analysts believe telemedicine will outpace outpatient care by 2020.2
There are benefits to employers, too: Virtual visits offer considerable savings compared to the total average charge for a doctor’s office visit or an emergency room visit. Plus, employees in need of routine care don’t necessarily have to leave work to see a doctor. A few minutes on their smartphone during their lunch break is all it takes.
Why Today’s Telehealth is Different—and a Must-have for Millennials
Some medical care has been conducted by phone for years: Test results, answers to quick questions, prescription refills, etc. But today’s telehealth takes remote medicine to a whole new level. Telehealth visits are actual consultations, up to the length of an in-office visit—not rushed conversations with an on-call provider who may be fielding multiple inquiries. Video chat and the ease of sharing pictures allow providers to gather much more information about patients’ symptoms and conditions than audio-only calls did. For people living in remote areas or people with mobility challenges, telehealth is a game-changer, giving them access to care they never had before.
Given how comfortable we’ve all become using technology to do things we used to do only in person, from shopping to learning to meetings with co-workers, it makes sense that we’re increasingly open to getting medical care the same way:
- 90% of adults below age 65 own smartphones and are connected3
- More than half of adults already research health symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment symptoms online.4
- Two-thirds of consumers are using mobile heath apps for their online health research.5
- Annual telehealth visits among the commercially insured increased by 261% between 2015 and 2017. 6
- Some analysts believe telemedicine will outpace outpatient care by 2020.2
Millennials are especially open to telemedicine: 74% of said they would actually prefer to see a doctor virtually in one recent study.7
In another study, 40 percent of millennials reported that telemedicine is an extremely or very important option to have in their health coverage.8 To attract and retain millennials, it’s critical that companies partner with a health plan that offers telemedicine.
Tufts Health Plan Is Proud to Be Expanding Access and Affordability with Teladoc
Making quality healthcare accessible and affordable is at the heart of our mission at Tufts Health Plan. We’re proud to be partnering with Teladoc to make virtual visits possible for our members. Teladoc has performed more than one million telehealth visits with 95-percent patient satisfaction. 9
Annual telehealth visits among the commercially insured increased by 261% from 2015 to 2017.6
As new technologies emerge, Tufts Health Plan will continue to embrace options that offer cost savings, convenience, and choice to our members. Learn more about our Telehealth offering powered by Teladoc®.