The Rise of TeleMedicine & Why It’s Here to Stay
With long wait times and a shortage of readily available family physicians, market forces have responded to address these patient pain points. Say hello to telemedicine – healthcare service brought right to your fingertips, wherever you may be.
Telemedicine is a private, on-demand access to physicians and specialists who can assess patient health care issues, diagnose and even prescribe medication. These consultations are done remotely via video conference or text through your computer, tablet and smartphone.
Although Canada has a publicly funded healthcare system, private telemedicine has been increasing in its usage across the country for some obvious benefits:
- It can be accessed from anywhere. With over 26 million smartphone users in Canada, telemedicine allows access to healthcare services from almost anywhere, bringing a greater level of access to care to patients.
- It’s super convenient. Employees don’t need to take time off work, leave home and rearrange their day just to see a physician. Employers benefit from having to administer fewer sick days and supporting a healthier, more productive team.
- It’s cheaper. A telemedicine appointment costs, on average $79, as compared to $146 for a doctor’s office visit, and $1,734 for an emergency room visit, according to a RAND Corp. study.
- It’s faster. In a country like Canada, which has one of the longest wait times to see a Doctor in the world (according to an article by the CBC), it’s far quicker to whip out your phone and use a telemedicine service for a consultation than it would be to sit in a waiting room.
Telemedicine is not currently covered by most provincial health plans in Canada (with the exception of British Columbia), and it’s not clear whether the onus for telemedicine will go to employers, Insurers or the government. However in the meantime, we can all be reassured that telemedicine’s benefits are strong enough that they will stay and see its usage increase over time.