Telemedicine: A “Luxury” Whose Time Has Come

Several years ago, I received a great introduction to a benefit I’d often talked about, but never used.

After attending a meeting in Dallas, I decided to take a few extra days to see the sights, so I treated myself to the local Four Seasons. When I woke up feeling sick on the third day, I decided to try the telemedicine benefit I’d been talking about in all my open enrollment meetings. If you’re not familiar with telemedicine, it’s basically a virtual doctor’s office visit using a smart device (phone, iPad or computer) where you video chat with a doctor. I logged into the telemedicine website, provided some basic information and my location, and described my symptoms. Then I entered a virtual waiting room (complete with elevator music), and about 20 minutes later, received a message that the doctor was ready to see me.

Did I mention this was at 6 a.m.? On a Sunday? I give credit to the doctor that he didn’t gasp when the image of me popped up on his screen — no makeup, messy hair, and well, sick. We chatted for about 15 minutes and he diagnosed an infection that required antibiotics. He said he’d call in the prescription to a pharmacy a few miles from the hotel, and I headed to the lobby to call a rideshare.

As I opened my rideshare app, the doorman asked if I needed help. When I mentioned I was calling a car for a quick trip to the pharmacy, he offered the Four Seasons’ “house car.” Despite my appearance, the driver gave me the full VIP treatment, jumping out to open the door for me when we got to the pharmacy. Who would have thought that early on a Sunday morning, 1,400 miles from home, I’d be able to see a doctor and pick up a prescription in less than an hour (in a limo, no less)?

Today, the COVID-19 situation has made telemedicine a familiar benefit for those unable to seek care in person. Doctor.com just released a study that showed 50 percent of respondents had used telemedicine in the past three months. It also showed that 83 percent of patients will probably continue to use telemedicine after the pandemic subsides. What was once considered a “nice benefit to have” is now a critical component of any medical plan. As employers and HR professionals review renewal and plan options, telemedicine should now be included with primary care and specialist office visits in plan reviews and market comparisons.

If you’d like to see the full telemedicine report, click Telemedicine Survey. If you’d like to know how your plan’s telemedicine benefit stacks up against other plans in the marketplace, email me at Diana.Twadell@integritybenefits.com. Limo rides not included.

2 thoughts on “Telemedicine: A “Luxury” Whose Time Has Come”

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