Patients should ask their doctor, hospital or healthcare provider about telemedicine services that are already available. In many cases, the provider may have an existing home health monitoring program or other telemedicine services. There are also numerous private companies that sell basic telehealth services, including 24/7 access to a health professional, remote monitoring, medication adherence and online wellness apps.
^ Jump up to: a b c Hirani SP, Rixon L, Beynon M, Cartwright M, Cleanthous S, Selva A, Sanders C, Newman SP (May 2017). "Quantifying beliefs regarding telehealth: Development of the Whole Systems Demonstrator Service User Technology Acceptability Questionnaire". Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 23 (4): 460–469. doi:10.1177/1357633X16649531. PMID 27224997.
Telemedicine is used in many different medical fields, throughout ambulatory and hospital settings. Almost every medical field has some use for consulting a patient or another provider (usually a specialist) remotely. Because of shortages of care, limited access to specialists in some areas, and remote locations of patients (especially in rural or sparsely populated areas), telemedicine is incredibly useful to any healthcare provider trying to expand access to quality patient care.
Today’s patient lives in an increasingly connected world and expects a different kind of care experience. Telemedicine engages patients by allowing them to connect with their doctor more frequently, in a convenient way. That means more questions asked and answered, a stronger doctor-patient relationship, and patients who feel empowered to manage their care.
In the early days, telemedicine was used mostly to connect doctors working with a patient in one location to specialists somewhere else. This was of great benefit to rural or hard to reach populations where specialists aren’t readily available. Throughout the next several decades, the equipment necessary to conduct remote visits remained expensive and complex, so the use of the approach, while growing, was limited.
The definition of telemedicine is somewhat controversial. Some definitions (such as the definition given by the World Health Organization) include all aspects of healthcare including preventive care. The American Telemedicine Association uses the terms telemedicine and telehealth interchangeably, although it acknowledges that telehealth is sometimes used more broadly for remote health not involving active clinical treatments.
Restrictive licensure laws in the United States require a practitioner to obtain a full license to deliver telemedicine care across state lines. Typically, states with restrictive licensure laws also have several exceptions (varying from state to state) that may release an out-of-state practitioner from the additional burden of obtaining such a license. A number of states require practitioners who seek compensation to frequently deliver interstate care to acquire a full license.
The population of the United States is growing, aging, and becoming more prone to chronic conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure, and COPD. This is creating a perfect storm of demand on the healthcare system, yet there is a shortage in the pipeline of healthcare providers being educated, trained, and licensed to practice. This necessitates getting very smart about how healthcare resources are leveraged to provide high-quality care to the highest number of people possible. Telehealth technologies increase the efficiency of the healthcare system overall by maximizing the productivity of each provider and removing geographical barriers to care.
However, telemedicine also has a few downsides — by nature of its virtual interaction, and because of societal and technological barriers that could change in the future. The good news is, with the growing popularity and widespread acceptance of telemedicine, we’re likely to see the cons of telemedicine resolve themselves. With new technological advancements and shifting policy that increasingly supports telemedicine, we’re continuously finding ways to improve telemedicine and make it a viable, even advantageous form of healthcare delivery for many medical scenarios.
With telehealth allowing physicians to expand their coverage area, there have been questions regarding interstate medical licensing. Interstate medical licensing permits more physicians to serve individuals in underserved and rural areas, but currently, only a few states offer this. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact helps streamline the licensing process for physicians that are interested in practising in participating states.
In the United States, the major companies offering primary care for non-acute illnesses include Teladoc, American Well, and PlushCare. Companies such as Grand Rounds offer remote access to specialty care. Additionally, telemedicine companies are collaborating with health insurers and other telemedicine providers to expand marketshare and patient access to telemedicine consultations. For example, In 2015, UnitedHealthcare announced that it would cover a range of video visits from Doctor On Demand, American Well's AmWell, and its own Optum's NowClinic, which is a white-labeled American Well offering. On November 30, 2017, PlushCare launched in some U.S. states, the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) therapy for prevention of HIV. In this PrEP initiative, PlushCare does not require an initial check-up and provides consistent online doctor visits, regular local laboratory testing and prescriptions filled at partner pharmacies.
“Formally defined, telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status,” the ATA writes. “Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, e-mail, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.”
But for growth investors, Teladoc looks like a great pick. Telehealth is still in its early stages with a tremendous opportunity for growth. Teladoc Health is the top player in the space with a lead that will be difficult to overcome. The stock might experience sharp declines now and then, but there should be more ups than downs for Teladoc over the long run.
Children under 3 with a fever need to be seen immediately by a doctor in an office based setting. Children under 12 with ear pain can be treated if the pain is due to a virus (e.g. Colds), allergies, or an external infection. If there is a high likelihood it is a bacterial inner infection that needs antibiotics, they should be seen immediately by a doctor in an office based setting.