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

woman at home on cell phone

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 20202

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 study7

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 20176

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®.

  1. Telehealth by Teladoc is available to all fully insured commercial plan members. Self-insured commercial groups need to opt in to the program. Self-insured members should check with their employer to see if telehealth is covered by their plan.
  2. Forrester, Predictions 2019: The future of Healthcare. December 3, 2018
  3. Com Score 2016
  4. Pennie, F. (2015).66% of Americans Would Use Mobile Health Apps to Manage Their Health. HIT Consultant.
  5. ibid
  6. Trends in Telemedicine Use in a Large Commercially Insured Population, 2005-2017 Michael L. Barnett, MD, MS; Kristin N. Ray, MD, MS; Jeff Souza, MA; et al.
  7. Millennials Are Redefining How Healthcare Gets Health Done by Steve Bullock, Columnist, June 29, 2017
  8. The 2017 Employee Benefit Research Institute/Greenwald & Associates Consumer Engagement in Health Care Survey
  9. This information is provided by Teladoc and has not been independently confirmed by Tufts Health Plan.