Telemedicine


There has been a recent push toward virtual health care, as both patients and doctors struggle to manage busy schedules and adapt to rising health care costs.  Some of the leading companies, which allow patients to connect with a licensed health care provider through an electronic device, are Teladoc, Doctor on Demand, and MDLive.

Some of the providers in Spokane:
  • Community Health Systems that includes Spokane-based Rockwood Health. They launched their sub-branded VirtualHealthNow service in the Inland NW in October 2015.  VirtualHealthNow can be accessed through a free application that can be downloaded at http://www.rockwoodhealthsystem.com, or through the Apple and Google Play app stores.  You do not have to be a Rockwood patient to sign up.

  • Providence is another provider with a local virtual-visit offering.
Recent law changes require health insurance companies in 29 states to cover telemedicine, making the online visit charge minimal for patients. They may not owe anything, or only standard copay. Each online consultation costs about $40-$50, which is substantially less than the typical $100 visit to your primary care doctor.

The process saves a lot of time, seeing that the average wait time to speak with a doctor is only 5 minutes, and the virtual exams are only about 15 minutes long.

Telemedicine also keeps contagious people out of public health care facilities where they could spread illness or disease.

What kind of issues can a doctor address online?
    •    Cold and flu symptoms

    •    Sinus problems

    •    Fevers

    •    Migraines

    •    Stomach pain

    •    Ear infections

    •    Rashes

    •    Allergy problems

    •    Anxiety

    •    Depression


Doctors in telemedicine companies are limited to a small list of common medications, if they need to send an electronic prescription.

What kind of issues can a doctor NOT address online?
    •    Chest Pain

    •    Stroke

    •    Breathing difficulties

    •    Serious trauma or burns

    •    Seizures

    •    Severe abdominal pain

    •    Deep cuts or abrasions

    •    Pregnancy-related medical conditions

    •    Complex, chronic diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s 


Doctors in telemedicine companies cannot write prescriptions for addictive painkillers or nonessential medications like Viagra.  

(Source:  “Virtual doctor visits offer convenience, lower costs”, Matthew Perrone, The Spokesman-Review, 11-8-15; DN, Editorial, “The future of health care?”, 1-24-16; IN Health Magazine, E.J. Iannelli, “House Calls”, August-September, 2016; “Rockwood rolls out virtual visits”, Mike McLean, Spokane Journal of Business, 10-22-15)


Statistics
  • 73% of Providence’s patients have used virtual visits in lieu of going to urgent care or seeing their primary care physician.


    12% of Providence’s patients stated that they would not even have seen a doctor had it not been for the virtual visit service.

    A full 95% of patients would recommend virtual visits to others.
 

    (Source:  “Virtual doctor visits offer convenience, lower costs”, Matthew Perrone, The Spokesman-Review, 11-8-15; DN, Editorial, “The future of health care?”, 1-24-16; IN Health Magazine, E.J. Iannelli, “House Calls”, August-September, 2016; “Rockwood rolls out virtual visits”, Mike McLean, Spokane Journal of Business, 10-22-15)