Utilize Telehealth and Remote Monitoring
Almost everyone you ask about telehealth will say the same thing: “I was hesitant to try it initially but once I tried it, I loved it. I am hooked and will use it all the time now.” It’s convenient, it saves time and its very affordable, with many insurance or cost sharing plans it’s free (included in your plan at no additional charge)! Tip # 9 of the Ten Free Tips to Spend Less on Healthcare is to utilize telehealth and remote monitoring to lower your healthcare costs and free up lost time waiting in a doctor’s office!
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Last summer I went to the doctor as my head was congested. The doctor (well, truth be told the nurse-practitioner serving at a drug store urgent care facility) kept telling me it was a cold and I didn’t need medication. I then went out of town and became convinced I had a sinus infection. While traveling, I logged onto my TelaDoc app. The app is included at no extra cost with my cost sharing plan. Within a few minutes a doctor (a real M.D. this time) popped onto my computer screen and consulted me. Within ten minutes the doctor prescribed medicine to me for a sinus infection and had the prescription filled to my pharmacy of choice (they also offered next day delivery to my home as an option). I was impressed.
Corporations throughout the country have realized that by providing a health plan that allows and encourages the use of telehealth appointments and remote monitoring capabilities can reduce time away from your family, treacherous minutes waiting in doctors waiting rooms, and waiting days for a doctor to fit you on the schedule. These mechanisms can reduce loss time at work and save you money as well.
A number of mobile applications are available that allow the patient and doctor to communicate through video on personal mobile phones or tablets. There are services that ensure a physician or NP is available at all times, appointments can be scheduled electronically, and “walk-in” time slots are often guaranteed for immediate access to a clinician who can remotely inspect the patient through video monitoring and can discuss the issues with the patient.
The rapid adoption of telehealth consults is one of the major drivers of the significantly reduced employer and employee spending reported by many companies that have converted to consumer-driven healthcare plans. Adoptions that save your employer money can save you money too! In fact, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the rapid de-regulation and adaptation of telehealth for initial patient consults and specialist visits was fast-tracked after years of being slowed down by regulatory red tape.
Once your corporate health plan allows and promotes remote physician consults, try it out as soon as you are able. Although many individuals are initially skeptical, once you have consulted a doctor from your phone, pad, or computer you may not ever want to go sit and wait in a doctor’s office again! This is the exact manner in which residents of island communities or rural areas have been conducting virtual consults for years. Heck, I even tried it myself and I am sold!
When researching LemonAid Health, you will see that they offer twenty-five dollar online doctor consultations, and promote rapid delivery of medication. They are able to prescribe regularly prescribe medication for acid reflux, acne, birth control, cholesterol tests, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, lab tests, sinus infection, smoking cessation, and urinary tract infection. In many cases, the entire registration, consult, medication cost, and processing fee is less than sixty dollars. This is just one example of a non-traditional approach to utilizing technology via telemedicine and finding alternative sources for medication fulfillment at affordable prices.
Similarly, remote monitoring devices are being deployed routinely for a number of common chronic diseases, as well as other health needs. Seniors battling congestive heart failure are often provided a Bluetooth scale, as sudden weight loss or gain can be an early indication of complications. The Bluetooth scale allows them to weigh in every day and the result is electrically reported. If there is a significant loss or gain, the patient’s insurer, physician, or clinical case manager is automatically notified. Other examples of remote monitors are devices that monitor heart rate or devices that send an alert each time a patient stands up or sits down. The capabilities of remote devices in improving care are endless.
As individuals begin to more closely address chronic disease, remote monitoring devices are almost always one of the tactics included in the care plan. The cost of many of these devices has come down significantly. Simply eliminating a co-payment for a physician office visit or urgent care visit is just the beginning of the savings that can be experienced by converting to telehealth consults for your basic needs in your effort to reduce wasteful healthcare spending.
Also, if you live in a rural area or are ever told by a doctor that they don’t have access to a specialist in that area, ask the doctor if a telehealth consult with a specialists is an option. You may be surprised to find out that it will be. Telehealth has proven to be an efficient solution that not only reduced the cost of accessing specialists care, but cuts down on wait time by days, weeks and even months at a time in some cases.
The main negative comment that often comes up in regard to telehealth is that seniors or the chronically ill have multiple co-morbidities or a chronic condition that requires a deeper in person physical examination, which is often true. For the average individual under the age of 45, for basic needs, telehealth can be a great, affordable option.
My daughter woke up for school one day last school year with a sore throat. In prior years I would have had to cancel a half day of work to take her to the doctor. With our current cost sharing plan however, telehealth consults are free and she was on her phone with a doctor ten minutes after waking up and he called in a prescription for her, which we picked up on the way to school. A much more efficient option than sitting in a germ infested waiting room for two hours waiting for the doctor to try and squeeze you in, don’t you think?
In summary, individuals should consider a health plan that allows and promotes remote and virtual visits, provides mobile applications, and hopefully, offers no-copay or reduced copay for you if you choose to conduct a virtual visit as opposed to one in person. Save money. Save time. Utilizing telehealth does not require much convincing for millennials and GenZ, as they grew up with the technology in their hands. GenXers and Boomers though, sometimes need a little push to try something new, especially when it is technology based and personal. If your health plan or cost sharing plan does not cover telehealth, check out our Partners Portal at SpendLessOnHealthcare.com to get preferred rates with some of our preferred providers. No matter your age, let this article be the nudge you need to give a remote physician consult a try!
In fact, when you download and implement the Ten Free Tips to Spend Less on Healthcareoffered through our non-profit foundation, you’ll get easy, practical tips to immediately start saving significant dollars for your family. Also, should you decide to accept our challenge to complete the Personal Spending Reduction Tool (PHSRT), we can then identify if your family qualifies for the Foundation’s $5,000 annual savings guarantee or your money back. That’s right, it’s guaranteed!