Misty Evans’ son was in his pajamas, sitting on the couch, as he talked to a doctor. When asked, his mom, of Lincoln, put the phone close to his mouth so the doc could see the back of his throat.
They were taking advantage of telehealth, a new service that lets patients see a doctor via computer, tablet or phone anytime, anywhere.
“The process took about ten minutes to register, you got to pick which doctor you wanted on the list after reading their credentials, we had to wait about 15 minutes, and then we were seen,” said Evans, who works for Crete Carrier Corporation. “The doctor sent a (prescription) over to Walgreens, and afterwards, I was sent a summary of the visit. It was awesome.”
Telehealth is another step in making health care more accessible and convenient, according to Dr. Joann Schaefer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.
“We believe telehealth has the potential to lower costs by providing access to early intervention and prevention,” she said. “Besides being convenient for employees who don’t feel well during work hours or parents whose kids get sick in the middle of the night, it’s great for rural folks or older adults who can’t get to a doctor easily.”
In most cases, a telehealth copay costs the same or less than a copay for an in-office visit.
The average telehealth visit costs $40, and the average in-office doctor visit costs $140, according to American Well, Blue Cross’ telehealth services provider.
Though telehealth shouldn’t take the place of your doctor, the virtual experience can be used to treat common conditions like sinus infections, stomach pain, pink eye, flu, ear infections, fever, migraines, and rashes. A brief consultation, perhaps a picture and before you know it, a diagnoses can yield relief. And it takes less time than driving to an urgent care clinic.
A recent survey from American Well found many respondents said things like telehealth is more convenient, it would give me peace of mind, it would make it easier to stay on medication, I would get in to see a doctor sooner, it would help me figure out if I need the ER or not, and I wouldn’t have to take time off work.
When you or a loved one aren’t feeling well, telehealth may be just what the doctor ordered.
Sara Cline is the marketing manager for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska. Mallory Speck is an associate product manager for Blue Cross.