Posted on 06.30.15

A recent AP press release states that Walgreens, in association with MDLIVE, will be offering smartphone apps that will allow patients to contact physicians virtually by year end in 25 states. Recently, insurers such as Anthem and the UnitedHealth group have announced that their non-emergency telemedicine services would be made available by next year to about 40 million patients.

Jon Linkous, the CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, reports that the primary care component is without a doubt “the fastest area of growth in telemedicine” with 450,000 of the 15 million patients seen annually via telemedicine.  Programs now offered by Walgreens and others “give customers around-the-clock access to doctors who can diagnose and treat conditions like allergies, a sinus infection or pink eye that don’t require a physical exam.” Walgreens will be expanding from smartphones into personal computers and tablets later this year.

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Posted on 06.12.15

An article in the May 2015 issue of US News and World Report by Dr. Vik Bakhru quotes a 2015 Vitals Report.  In it, Vitals states that the average time spent in a physician’s waiting room alone exceeds 19 minutes, and this does take into account time spent in the appointment itself, getting to/from the appointment and time associated with having to make any other arrangements.  Alternatively, the typical telemedicine appointment from start to finish takes approximately 15 minutes.  The increasing use of smartphones has changed the landscape of how medicine is being practiced as physicians are increasingly capable of speaking with patients live and also seeing them through the use of video at the convenience of the patient.

Bakhru states that “right now, many patients are taking it upon themselves to circumvent the waiting room issue by turning to more unreliable methods like self-diagnosing using Internet research. But medical experts are called so for a reason, as they are the only ones knowledgeable and qualified to make health assessments and recommendations. What we need is a bridge between efficiency and efficacy, between cost-effectiveness and quality of care.  That’s where telemedecine comes into play.”

He continues that telemedicine is “a win-win, as doctors can effectively serve more patients while building more meaningful relationships with them, and patients can get the fast, convenient cost-effective medical attention they need. And why should we expect anything less than accessibility, convenience and efficiency from our doctors?”

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