Telehealth services have soared as the COVID-10 pandemic caused people to quarantine and practice social distancing. Once just a small blip in the world of medical care, telehealth has now exploded and is fast becoming a standard source for medical appointments for many patients. While in-person physician visits are often necessary, some issues can easily be dealt with over the phone or via video conference. Doctors can easily provide medical advice and fill prescriptions virtually without the need for physical contact with patients, keeping everyone safe from potential infection. In other cases, preliminary visits can take place via telehealth, with subsequent lab tests or other services being provided in person. For many patients and doctors, this process has been working so well that it’s highly likely that telehealth will be a staple in the medical field long after the pandemic subsides.
Telehealth Services Will Likely Be a Mainstay Going Forward
According to a survey conducted by Sage Growth Partner (SGP) and Black Book Market Research, one-quarter of consumers polled say they’ve used telehealth services before the epidemic struck, and 59% claim they are more likely to use these services today than before the crisis hit. About one-third of the survey’s respondents would even consider leaving their current doctor for one who offers telehealth services. As a result of higher demand for telehealth, it’s expected that the industry will be valued at a whopping $175.5 billion by 2026, a figure which illustrates the growing need and demand for telehealth services.
Benefits of Telehealth Versus In-Person Medical Care
It’s easy to see why telehealth has become incredibly popular and will likely continue to be well into the future. Aside from the fact that telehealth helps maintain physical distancing to protect all involved in today’s climate, it also comes with other benefits. For starters, telehealth avoids the need to commute to a doctor’s office and waste time sitting in a waiting room before being called in to see the doctor. This is especially helpful for those who live in rural areas who are not within close proximity to medical facilities. There’s no need to leave the house, and appointments can often be made available same-day or next-day, rather than having to wait days for an appointment.
Another perk to telehealth services is affordability. The cost associated with visiting a doctor in person is sometimes much higher than connecting via a phone call or online video chat. Not only can you save money on transportation to get to your doctor’s office, but the actual visit itself may be less expensive. According to Red Quill Consulting Inc., the average cost of an in-person appointment can be as high as $176 per visit, while a telehealth visit is anywhere from $40 to $50. Even certain issues one may consider urgent, may be dealt with over the phone. Issues like eye infections, sore throats, allergies, rashes, fevers, and respiratory issues may be handled virtually, as long as they are not considered medical emergencies. Urgent care centers are typically very busy with full waiting rooms and long wait times, so be familiar with your telehealth options should a situation arise – and you could save yourself time and money. Health sharing programs may be a more cost-effective option for Americans who are looking for affordable, comprehensive health care without the red tape that often comes with insurance plans. At UHSM, telemedicine appointments are both convenient and affordable. Members of UHSM’s health sharing programs may be able to take advantage of $0 per-visit consult fee. Regardless of the particular health sharing program, telemedicine is a cost-effective option. If you’re looking for flexible programs that can provide you with a range of benefits with two of America’s largest provider networks: emergency, urgent care, doctor visits, Annual Wellness and telehealth services, prescriptions and more — plus, being part of a caring community of members to share in each other’s eligible medical expenses — then a UHSM health sharing plan may be right for you and your family.