Although telemedicine has existed in some form since the 1950s, the digital shift in the healthcare industry has been on a slow upward trend, with most people preferring in-person medical appointments. According to RAND Corporation, the telemedicine market penetration in the US population by the start of 2020 was 4 percent.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, telemedicine has exploded. According to Los Angeles-based UCLA Health, between March and May 2020, they observed a significant increase in the average number of telemedicine visits from about 100 to 3000-4000 each day. As more innovative telemedicine companies step in to meet the ever-increasing demands of this trend, the popularity of telemedicine is only expected to continue increasing over the next five years as more patients enjoy the convenience of digital healthcare. A report by McKinsey & Company shows that an estimated 74 percent of
telemedicine patients are highly satisfied with their experiences and about 76 percent of patients are likely to use telemedicine services again in the future.
To help patients understand and navigate the complicated landscape of modern medicine that can be challenging, we have provided an in-depth breakdown of some of the questions you may be having about telemedicine. We will also feature the top three best telemedicine apps in the US in 2021 that you should consider using.
What Is a Telemedicine App?
A telemedicine app is an application that allows patients to connect with their primary care providers online for consultation remotely. Through these apps, a patient can have a video or phone appointment with a doctor from the comfort of their home. You can also stay in touch with your therapist using telemedicine apps.
Although most telemedicine app allows you to access medical appointments using your mobile devices, such as an Android or iOS smartphones, some also support computers with webcams.
Can Telemedicine Be Done Over the Phone?
In certain states, telemedicine companies may support over-the-phone appointments. However, most require you to use a telemedicine website or app that has a video support feature.
How Much Does a Telemedicine Doctor Visit Cost?
Mostly, you will be required to pay for your telemedicine appointments speaking. Telemedicine is affordable, and appointments cost as low as $20 and maybe even cheaper for patients whose insurance covers the total cost of their appointments. Without insurance, a regular virtual medical visit on average costs approximately $79, which is cheaper compared to around $146 for a physical appointment visit.
Are There Any Differences between Telemedicine and Telehealth?
Although mostly used interchangeably, telemedicine mainly refers to online medical appointments. On the other hand, telehealth may include additional remote health services, such as continued health education and patient monitoring.
How Do I Use a Telemedicine App?
Telemedicine apps are easy to use; you simply download your chosen app from App Store or Google Play Store and sign up using the in-app instructions. Depending on the app you’ve chosen, you may have to schedule an appointment, hold as you wait for the next available doctor, or go straight to your virtual visit session.
How Do I Download a Telemedicine Apps?
Telemedicine apps can be downloaded and installed as easily as any other app on your phone. Although there might be slight variations, the guideline below outlines the general steps you should follow to download and install a telemedicine app.
Downloading a telemedicine app in 6 easy steps:
- Depending on whether your smartphone is Android or iOS based, go to Google Play Store or App Store, or Google Play.
- Use the search feature to type in the name of the app you wish to download.
- Click ‘Enter,’ select the app from the displayed results and click ‘Install.’
- Wait for the app to download and install, then open it.
- Register for a patient account.
- You are ready to book virtual medical appointments.
Conditions That Can Be Treated on Telemedicine Apps?
Telemedicine is still under constant development. As such, it is not all-inclusive, at least not at the moment. Still, physicians can diagnose and treat numerous health conditions using telemedicine apps.
Some of the conditions that can be treated using telemedicine apps include: • Allergies
- Cold and flu
- Pink eye
- Sinus infection
- Sore throat
- Thyroid disorders
- Yeast infection
- Many other (You may have to confirm with your telemedicine service provider)
Conditions That Cannot Be Treated on a Telemedicine App?
As mentioned above, telemedicine remains a work in progress. Although innovative, telemedicine platforms do not remotely diagnose or treat all health conditions.
Some of the conditions that cannot be treated by a physician on a telemedicine app include:
- Chest pain
- Complex mental health issues
- Cuts &Burns
- Heart problems
- Life-threatening issues
- Neurological issues
- Sprains & Fractures
- Surgical procedures
What are the Benefits of Using Telemedicine Apps?
Telemedicine apps allow patients to get numerous modern healthcare benefits that make it easier than ever for them to take control of their health conditions.
Some of these benefits include:
- Better healthcare quality
- Ease of use
- Physicians and skilled nurses are more efficient with technology and integrated software like electronic medical records.
- AI diagnosis and medical streaming devices can better assist providers in diagnosis and treatment.
- It also allows providers to monitor patients in real-time and adjust treatment plans when necessary.
- Patients can avoid spending gas money or wasting time in traffic with video consultations.
- Individuals can schedule a consultation during a work break or even after work hours.
- Those who struggle to find care options can use telemedicine solutions.
- More convenient, accessible care for patients.
- Affordable as it saves on healthcare costs.
- Extended and improved access to care consultation from specialists.
- Increasing patient engagement.
- Better quality patient care.
Does Medicare Cover Telemedicine Apps?
Yes, Medicare covers services received through telemedicine apps. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare now covers some telemedicine services. You’ll be required to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the healthcare services you receive on telemedicine apps, and the Part B Deductible will cover the rest, same as for in-person healthcare services.
Top 3 Most Popular Telemedicine Apps
Here are some of the best companies in the North American market, both new and established, that are increasing telemedicine reach and improving their healthcare service delivery through telemedicine apps.
Rank 1. HESG TeleMed (Health Sciences Group, Inc.)
TeleMed is an app that gives patients access to Kaiser Permanente doctors. These doctors have substantial experience with various patients. A HIPAA compliant app, TeleMed uses a secure messaging system to allow doctors to manage communications securely. It has doctors who specialize in more than a dozen of different fields of medical practice. Using Telemed, you can consult with multiple specialists. Patients can call dedicated numbers to reach the Telemed answering services that give them 24/7/365 access to healthcare services. Telemed gives you simple and secure access to innovative healthcare services.
Rank 2 – Teladoc
Teladoc is a well-known telemedicine service provider. Its visits do not have a time limit, and it offers 24/7/365 access to doctors via phone or video call. Patients using Teladoc can access medical care services wherever they are and whenever they need it. Teladoc provides a wide variety of medical services, including ear infections and sinus problems.
Teladoc gives you online access to medical consultations with a national network of doctors.
Teladoc provides your insurance plan, your employer, or other organization. It offers strictly non-emergency care and routine prescriptions. Easily accessible through its desktop, mobile app, or through cell phone signal, Teladoc has consistently garnered high ratings in app stores and its broad user base. The company has quickly established itself as one of the leading telemedicine service providers and has recently another telemedicine startup, Livongo.
Rank 3. MDLive
MDLive is one of the easiest apps for new telemedicine patients to use due to its user-friendly user interface (UI). It allows you to schedule an appointment or wait for the next available doctor, with an average wait time of about a 15-minute. Using MDLive, you can have virtual visits any time, day or night, and on holidays.
It supports treating over 50 different non-emergency health conditions and offers licensed therapists, dermatology appointments, and certified psychiatrists for mental health support. Focusing on urgent care visits, MDLive also allows for short-term prescription refills. Accessible via a mobile app, MDLive has partnered with insurance plans to make healthcare services more affordable.
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