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Why telehealth is quickly becoming a more common way to visit the doctor

Posted September 01, 2020 by Charles A. Zonfa, MD, FACOG | Chief Medical Officer and Vice President, Network Development and Contracting

Amidst an ongoing pandemic, telehealth is perhaps more important than ever before. It’s a great option to still get the care you need, while staying safe in the comfort of your own home and avoiding exposure and the potential spread of COVID-19.

And while many people are finding themselves working from home, telehealth is increasingly becoming a popular option.

Telehealth enables patients to conveniently connect with providers using electronic communications and software to securely discuss their health concerns and receive clinical services without leaving their couch. 

Acute needs, such as rashes, allergies and a sore throat, and chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and mental health, can all be serviced quickly and conveniently. Telehealth is also a good alternative to urgent care and, in some cases, the emergency room, helping patients avoid long waits. 

Find out why many SummaCare members are turning to telehealth, and why virtual visits are quickly becoming a more common way to see the doctor.  

Cost savings and added convenience. Patients can conveniently meet with their providers from the comfort of their home. It eliminates the hassle and cost of travel, helping patients save on gas, parking, public transportation and, in some cases, childcare. Plus, virtual visits tend to cost less than in-person visits.
Improved health outcomes. When patients can conveniently see their doctor whenever they need to without the challenges of getting to the office, they can practice better management of medication, lifestyle and chronic conditions. In fact, studies have shown that patients using telehealth reduce their chances for hospital admissions, spend fewer days in the hospital, if hospitalized, and are more engaged in their health care.
Improved access to care. Telehealth opens the door for higher quality care in remote locations. People living in rural areas may have limited access to health services and may have to drive—sometimes several hours—to see a specialist. Telehealth closes that gap by overcoming geographic barriers. In addition, people with limited access to transportation or those older and less mobile can also receive the high-quality care they need. 
Time savings. Patients who work full time or have odd hours can conveniently schedule an appointment that works better for their schedule without having to take time off work. Plus, virtual visits eliminate travel time, as well as the wait time at the doctor’s office, so patients don’t have to waste their precious paid time off.
Reduces spread of infection. During a pandemic, stopping the spread of infection is crucial. While your doctor’s office has put in place safety procedures for welcoming patients back (e.g. social distancing, masks and other personal protective equipment, strict cleaning and sanitizing efforts), with virtual visits, patients lessen the risk of spreading germs to others by staying home.

How SummaCare members can get started

Most SummaCare members have access to Teladoc®, one of the first telehealth providers in the country. It connects members to a licensed physician by web, phone or mobile app for general medicine, dermatology and behavioral health visits, which can be scheduled 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s quality care right when you need it most.

You can visit or call 800.835.2362 (TTY 855.636.1578) to set up your Teladoc account. The Teladoc provider will give you further instruction. 

Telehealth is a great option for members — especially in these uncertain times — but it’s not meant to replace in-person visits. Instead, it’s meant to enhance care and improve the patient experience. While telehealth may not be for everyone, the benefits are difficult to ignore. 

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