Telemedicine, the formal term for online doctor consultation services, is an industry that is growing and changing rapidly, providing anyone and everyone with access to the medical treatment and care that they deserve. In 2009, telemedicine made many new strides, including adding itself to the covered benefits of many insurance plans. An online medical service can offer less expensive treatment options, a chance for better attendance at work, and simple, easy management of acute illnesses and simple conditions. About 95% of the people who have used online medical consultations in 2009 were able to be completely treated without any face-to-face interaction with a doctor.
With telehealth equipment averaging costs between $10,000 and $100,000, it can be quite expensive to provide these services to patients. However, that is not stopping hundreds of doctors, clinics and medical service providers from giving it a try. While most current telemedicine services treat over the phone or via email, video conferencing is slated to be a big part of the future success of this industry as technology improves. People already use video conferencing for many different things in their lives. Putting the technology into the hands of medical professionals is just a matter of equipment costs and implementation.
In a survey done this year, 50% of the people surveyed answered that internet or computer technology used for healthcare would be something that they would try. Roughly 76% of those who were interested in telemedicine replied that their preferred method of contact was e-mail consultation, while phone calls, Q & A sessions, and online forums were the other options people preferred. The great thing about telemedicine is that it offers something for everyone, and you don’t have to be a computer genius to use it. Many people who can use basic email functions and fill out a form can benefit from online medical consultations, and the future of the industry is in making it simpler for patients to gain access to the healthcare that they need.
In 2008, 36% of the physicians in the U.S. reported using online services to communicate with patients. That number has risen in 2009, and it is predicted that the number of physicians who adopt and use smart phones in telemedicine and online doctor consultations will rise to about 81% by 2012. That’s a substantial increase. However, with all of the complications surrounding healthcare, including the lack of insurance by many and the lack of time or effort to go to the doctor by others, it’s only natural for doctors to want to find a way to keep in touch with customers. When they won’t come to you, you find ways to bring healthcare to them, and that’s what online doctors and online medical consultations are doing.
Until recently, online medical services have always hidden in the shadows behind the scams and fake solicitations for ‘pain meds online with no prescription’ and other common medication scams that have been running rampant online. However, as more people turn to the actual online medical community (where the prescription of controlled substances is illegal and the management of serious illnesses is not possible), its reputation is growing strong. In the future, telemedicine will likely be the only reason that some patients are able to get medical consultations at all.