What You Need to Know About Telemedicine and the Future of Healthcare
Let's face it, medical care is pretty archaic in a world where apps are king.
From outdated appointment scheduling, paperwork and clipboards, to rooms full of sick people waiting to see overworked doctors and nurses.
The simplest of everyday tasks has been appified. Banking, bill management, taxes, and even grocery shopping can all be done via apps at a reasonable price.
But the rapid technological advancement of every bit of our lives hasn't been able to break through to the healthcare industry. For some, the idea of getting your medical care through an app can seem hard to comprehend. We get similar hang-ups about our program all the time: “But if you're not seeing me in person and customizing it to my specific needs, how will it work?”
The healthcare industry is hung up on face time. People are stuck on the fact that they need to see a doctor face to face because their specific problem has never been seen before, they swear. And that translates to a lack of convenience, and quite frankly, a time suck for us all. There are only so many doctors who are well-trained, and way more individuals dealing with chronic pain. In fact, the average physician sees 20-30 patients per day, spending only an average of 15 minutes with them.
So what's the technological solution for people craving face to face appointments with their doctors? Telemedicine.
Apps like SteadyMD and new-age hospitals are starting to offer similar options to their patients.
It's an amazing thing to be able to get appointments with your doctor through your phone. This is groundbreaking stuff, truly.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine sounds like an outdated term, much like the old telethons of yore. And that's because, honestly, it isn't a new advancement.
Fifteen years ago, a surgeon in New York successfully controlled a robot remotely to remove a gallbladder from a patient in France some 3,800 miles away. Some of the earliest iterations of telemedicine began popping up as early as 1999, with many instances happening in rural countries via satellite phones when a doctor is days of travel away.
Now, we use the idea of telemedicine a little differently.
Imagine having the ability to choose a physician you share an interest or hobby with, one that you can develop a genuine relationship with via increased communication. This isn't fantasy, it's happening right now!
Services like SteadyMD can reinvent this concept of having a family physician. We're talking taking it back to the days when your doctor gave you your first booster shot and also helped your dad when he was sick with pneumonia. SteadyMD can help you locate a doctor who has the time to get to know you, answer all of your questions, knows your history from you, not just a chart.
Sounds a little too futuristic. Healthcare is about people, not technology! How will my doctor know what's best for MY health if they can't see me?
We've heard all of this before. But just take a look around, health technology is everywhere! FitBits, SmartWatches, Heart Rate monitoring Headphones, SMART mattresses, you name it. Technology holds the potential to take us from a reactive symptom-based healthcare model to one focused on prevention and wellness by incorporating it into our daily lives.
Let's just set the record straight, though. We aren't going to get into designer babies and nanotechnology here, but telemedicine will allow us to take two steps forward while yielding the benefits of tradition. Something ‘Big Healthcare' has left in the past.
How Does Telemedicine Work?
Concierge Doctor, Telemedicine, E-Health, MobileHealth, mHealth, Health 2.0
These are all different words for essentially the same thing.
Digging into this subject proved interesting. It's not every day that you find 51 definitions on one term, let alone an actual study looking into how many definitions of E-health there are. I'm going to save you some time; the best definition was number 51.
e-Health: the “The integration of the internet into healthcare.”
The internet increases access as well as the sharing of information, promotes communication while allowing for secure and reliable transactions. By infiltrating healthcare, the internet will transform it even further then it already has.
Mobile Health eliminates the need to travel, make numerous appointments, on top of follow-ups and separate trips for testing and prescriptions and more. With an app like SteadyMD, you call up the doctor, explain the issue. From there, they would then send you in for necessary tests, call you in a prescription, or refer you to a specialist. BOOM. You just expedited a whole appointment and you didn't even leave your couch.
The Current Reality of Healthcare
Let's paint a few pictures because maybe you're sitting there thinking telemedicine won't make a difference in your life.
Perhaps you live in a big city, and your doctor is down the street from your house. Even better, it's no problem at all to get a next day appointment. And to put the cherry on top, you have excellent healthcare benefits where it costs you no more than $15 per visit in copays. Seems like you've got it made, but you're one of the very few people who have this luxury.
Now just imagine you're not that luxurious, city person, you're Susie So-and-so. Let's say you are a pretty healthy person, but for some reason, you keep getting headaches. You're not sick; you feel fine when you don't have a headache, but awful when one strikes. You're very busy working full time with a family, and you schedule the first available appointment for three weeks from Friday with a specialist. Alright, you can live with the headaches for another three weeks.
The appointment date arrives. Here's what your day looks like:
- 1-hour drive in traffic that leaves you stressed and brings on a headache.
- 20 minutes filling out paperwork.
- 30 minutes waiting for the nurse to take you back.
- 15 minutes until the Doctor comes in.
- The Doctor reads your chart, asks you a few questions, checks your eye movements, then scribbles down a prescription for a stronger version of Excedrin Migraine.
- Off you go.
Gee Thanks, Doc. But wait, it gets worse…
On your way out, the front desk person tells you that they don't accept your insurance, you're out-of-network. So that'll be an out-of-pocket expense. Healthcare costs the U.S. $3.5 trillion per year, and institutional financial problems are probable as soon as 2026 if something doesn't change.
This is the reality for most people's healthcare experiences in the United States, and if you relate to this experience, perhaps telemedicine is worth a shot.
How Telemedicine Changes Healthcare
Let's Bob Ross this and add some color to that ugly black and white picture we just painted.
- You call up the doctor and have your first appointment from home.
- Together, you review your medical and family history, discuss your medical questions and concerns, go into detail about your diet, exercise, sleep, work, and the other essential parts of your life, and order relevant lab tests for you to get a detailed snapshot of your health.
- They'll retrieve your relevant medical records from previous doctors and hospitals.
That's the reality we could be in. The day you feel that first migraine, you could have a prescription or a healthcare plan suited to your needs.
The Benefits of an E-Doctor (like SteadyMD)
We've already discussed the biggest benefit to e-doctors and telemedicine, which is the simple fact that it's easier. But there are many other benefits that make sense for today's busy lives.
- Monthly memberships – just like a gym membership, you get unlimited text/video appointments with the physician of your choice.
- Physicians – you get to pick your doctor based on what's important to you. Athlete? How about a doctor who's worked one on one with thousands of athletes?
- Holistic or functional medicine options – not a fan of prescriptions or surgeries? Great, neither are we, and SteadyMD will hook you up with a doctor who agrees.
- Ability to order labs and medications right through the app – yes, your insurance will cover it
- Accessibility – message your doctor any time, and video chat from where ever you are
- Referrals made easy – the doctor will send you to a specialist if needed without going in to see them first
The Age of Personalized Healthcare
You deserve face time with your Doctor, so duh, why can't you FaceTime your Doctor?
Healthcare has been primarily focused on the many, not on the individual. You have this diagnosis; you get this treatment, this injury, this procedure. The assembly line approach does not work with human beings, with Doctors seeing 20-30 patients a day there is just no time to learn necessary background information to treat the patient best.
With advancements in information technology, the understanding of the genome and gene therapy, individualized healthcare is the new frontier. We are going to be able to monitor our health, choose our doctors, and have a more involved role in our own health.
Healthcare isn't the only industry evolving. Chronic Pain, Physical & Emotional Therapy, Meditation, Nutrition & Exercise are all transforming via apps and web platforms.
Fix Yo Self
MoveU is to chronic pain and posture as SteadyMD is to your doctor visits. The problems surrounding physical therapy and chiropractic are different from healthcare, but they are still problems.
MoveU has created an online system of success. Through a video-based platform, you learn movements and postural corrections needed to realign your body. Then, by recording yourself performing the motions, you upload them to the MoveU community. You'll receive personalized feedback from the community, many of whom are on the same journey as you. Not personal you ask? What's personal about going to a physical therapist who has you practice the same local exercises for 2 months without looking to the body as a whole.
The MoveU Program is self-guided and self-paced. You move your own body at your own speed. And we've got a community of coaches and other members that give you unparalleled emotional support. That seems pretty personal.
Knowledge, application, and support are the foundations to success for any patient; you would be hard pressed to find that in the insurance policy based healthcare system we have been forced to operate in, until now. SteadyMD and other telemedicine companies are awesome! We really align with the holistic and futuristic approach to healthcare!
Written By David Schroer