Arizona Telemedicine Blog Book - Page 18

Telemedical Care: What Patients Think B y N a n cy Ro w e o n March 26, 2015 I was vacationing in a tiny, remote mountain town on the east coast last summer when I became ill. It was a Sunday evening and the local urgent care center didn’t open until the next morning. I didn’t want to wait 15 hours for urgent care, and I didn’t want to be driven to the regional ER, where I might have to wait a long time to be seen—and might be exposed to something contagious while in the waiting room. Luckily, I had recently heard about one of the companies that provides urgent care visits via telemedicine. So I took out my iPad, loaded the app, and called in. I was able to choose from a list of doctors; I agreed to pay the fee (about what my urgent care copay would have been, and certainly less than an ER visit would have cost); I entered my credit card info; and within a few minutes I was talking to the doctor I chose—all from my bed! The doc called in a prescription to the pharmacy I selected and I was feeling fine very shortly. A Visit to the ER vs. Telemedicine My experience jives with a recent survey conducted by medical technology reviewer Software AdviceTM, which found that only 16 percent of patients would prefer to seek care for a minor ailment at an emergency room if they also had access to telemedical services. The survey also found that, among patients who have not used a telemedicine service, 75% express interest in using one in lieu of an in-person medical visit. 18 Kathleen Irwin, a market research associate at Software Advice, says that, as of January 2015, patients spend an average of 133 minutes in the ER. Take that two-plus hours and add in the transport time to and from, and compare it to the approximately 10 minutes my virtual doctor visit took from start to finish. Why Patients Choose Telemedicine My experience is not unique: Patients in the survey who had used telemedicine, when asked to cite positive aspects of their most recent virtual appointment, cited “don’t have to travel” (21%), “comfort of home” (20%), “quick access to care” (11%), “shorter wait time” (10%), and “avoid waiting room” (8%) as among the top benefits. Interestingly, 21% also cited “high quality of care” as one of the benefits they experienced. When I used the telemedicine service, I wasn’t expecting particularly high quality medical advice, but I knew what was wrong with me and what prescription was needed, so I didn’t mind experimenting. My experience was so positive, though, that I used the same vendor again—this time from home—in order to avoid a l ۙ