What is Telemedicine?

According to, telemedicine (which may also be referred to as “telehealth”, “e-health” or “virtual healthcare”)”seeks to improve a patient’s health by permitting two-way, real time interactive communication between the patient and the physician or practitioner at the distant site. This electronic communication means the use of interactive telecommunications equipment that includes, at a minimum, audio and video equipment.”

Many are using the term “telemedicine” with widely varying definitions, so it’s worth understanding what telemedicine means and how it is being used.

Evidence-based Telemedicine

  • Evidence-based Telemedicine clinicians can evaluate, diagnose and treat patients remotely using store-and-forward technology and/or real-time video conferencing. Remote healthcare practitioners can capture and transmit medical data to share with peers.

Symptoms-based Telemedicine

  • Symptoms-based Telemedicine, a clinician communicates with a patient by phone or video chat.The clinician makes their diagnosis based upon the symptoms that the patient provides, which is typically not backed up with clinical evidence.

No matter what kind of telemedicine, claims and employees are the real winners.

Your clients win because of overall cost savings to their claims and employees win because they never need to leave the comfort of their home to receive care. Simple items like, colds, flu, and UTI’s can often be diagnosed over the phone. This proves exceptionally helpful to cut down on time missed from work, too.

Telemedicine is often already built into the health plans you are selling today, too. Check with your carrier and educate, during open enrollment meetings, the value of telemedicine.

What services can be provided by telemedicine

Telemedicine can be used for a wide variety of health services. Here’s a short list of common conditions a primary care doctor may treat via telemedicine:

  • Allergies

  • Arthritic Pain

  • Asthma

  • Bronchitis


  • Colds and Flu

  • Diarrhea

  • Infections

  • Insect Bites

  • Pharyngitis

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Rashes

  • Respiratory Infections

  • Sinusitis

  • Skin Inflammations

  • Cellulitis

  • Sore Throats

  • Sprains & Strains

  • Bladder Infections

  • UTIs

  • Sports Injuries

  • Vomiting

Needed information to diagnose includes:

  • Identifying information

  • source of the history

  • chief complaint

  • history of present illness

  • associated signs & symptoms

  • past medical history

  • family history

  • personal and social history

  • medication review

  • allergies

  • detailed review of symptoms

  • provider-directed patient self-examination (including mobile medical devices if needed)

Here are 5 of telemedicine's greatest benefits:


  1. Convenience. Penciling in a lunch-hour visit with your physician can prove challenging, especially when a can't-miss conference call absorbs the bulk of your afternoon. Telemedicine eases this problem. Through video, Web chat, or phone, workers can follow-up on a prescription or diagnosis with a physician they've been seeing for years


  2. Less time in the waiting room. We've all flipped through the same year-old issue of Usor People while waiting our turn to see our primary care physician or a urgent care provider. Telemedicine eliminates this process, according to Bart Stein our president “it is really a big plus for our members. It takes a couple of minutes to register and put your health history in, and then you're ready to get the healthcare you need,” he says.


  3. Cost-efficiency. An increasing number of doctors are charging less for a telemedicine consultation than they would for an in-person visit. Telemedicine can also reduce travel expenses in many ways. This is especially true for those that have a very busy life style that time just does not allow them to get away from work or those living in rural communities. Rural families who would normally travel hours out of their way to access key health services can do it from the comfort of their couch.


  4. Expedited transmission of Lab Results or X-rays for a second opinion. Perhaps you're buried under a business proposal deadline and are unable to get a second opinion about your thyroid condition. E-mailing an Lab Result or an X-ray of the inflamed area to a specialist for a second opinion just might be your saving grace. One of the beauties of telehealth is that it can improve communication between patients and their medical practitioners. In-person visits and postal mail are no longer the only options for receiving and sending medical documents.


  5. Privacy assurance. Telemedicine complies with HIPAA laws, which aim to prevent private or secure medical documents from being leaked. But telemedicine is safe and it's private.

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