Florida Hospital System Implements Telemedicine Program
The NCH Healthcare System in Collier County has instituted a “virtual visit” program for patients.
This means that patients can call in or do video conferencing through smartphone apps like FaceTime for advice and diagnoses from doctors.
According to a 2014 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society survey, 46 percent of healthcare providers were using multiple telemedicine systems. Out of the 400 respondents, 25 percent said that they use telemedicine for remote patient care. This increased to 35 percent of respondents when the survey was updated again in April 2017.
Telemedicine in Action
Doctors get on a virtual visit schedule that allows them to be available for telemedicine appointments. It makes it more convenient for patients who would prefer not to wait in the waiting room of hospitals or clinics, or who only need general health advice. The cost of the virtual visit is only $45, and they will take patients whether or not they have health insurance.
Technology is changing the way that doctors and nurses interact with patients. Some illnesses and injuries can be diagnosed over the phone or video conferencing. This saves the patient and unnecessary trip to the doctor office, where they might be exposed to more germs, and provides the care that they need. Prescriptions can still be sent to the pharmacy like any in-person doctor visit.
Telemedicine programs have been around for several years. The increase in their usage shows that patients are interested in meeting with their doctors in the privacy of their own homes. Medical centers that recognize that patients want care without having to leave their houses will be able to help those patients who might otherwise avoid the doctor.
Making Telemedicine Worthwhile
The NCH Healthcare System does not outsource the telemedicine service. Instead, they use their own doctors and nurses in their implementation of the program. These are the same doctors and nurses that patients would see if they came into the medical facilities.
Another benefit is that if the problem cannot be diagnosed over telemedicine, the patient is encouraged to go to an NCH health provider. The $45 fee is transferred to that in-person doctor visit. Patients do not have to pay twice for the same care.