Many people in the tech industry want to change that with telehealth services, which allow you to complete an entire doctor’s visit from your computer or mobile device.
Imagine having a sore throat that just won’t go away, and you’ve got a vacation coming up. Medication won’t help most sore throats, but if your doctor could examine your throat during a quick video chat, you would know for sure. You’d have what you need in minutes, whether it’s a prescription or simply some peace of mind.
The concept has been around since the 1990s, but now the movement is gaining steam. About 52 percent of hospitals used telehealth technology as of 2013, and 74 percent of consumers say they would use telehealth if offered, according to the American Hospital Association.
The rise in telehealth is partly due to its potential to increase access to care for patients in rural areas and for the disabled or elderly, but it also modernizes health care.
“People do everything online or on their cellphones— banking, learning, buying. This is the way health care has to go, too,” says Dr. Kevin Biese, vice chair of emergency medicine at the University of North Carolina’s medical school. Biese uses TouchCare, a mobile app, to follow up with and advise patients he sees in the emergency room.
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While some telehealth services are best for certain populations, almost anyone can find benefit. The next time you think you need to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment, you may be able to save yourself the hassle with an online visit. The trick is knowing when and how to use telehealth to get the care you need quickly and at a low cost. Here’s what you need to know about telehealth and how it could work for you.
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