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Simply Telephonic

Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Simply Telephonic

When I was a boy, and the same for my seven (older) siblings, it was nothing for our mother to call Dr. Dwaihy to ask for help or advice regularly. The ever-kind and peaceful doctor, who delivered all eight of us and lived but seven blocks away, was always there to ask how our mom was feeling, especially when she was pregnant. One time she fell and grew very scared, and the doctor said softly: “Dee, are you okay? How does your tummy feel? Do you feel life?”  

And if the answers were “yes,” Dr. Dwaihy felt good and made my mom feel even better.  

Now, I don’t know if our dearly departed mom could have navigated today’s cellular smartphones (she wasn’t exactly Miss Tech-Savvy). Still, if she could, she couldn’t possibly imagine where telemedicine has gone today.  

Between the busy-ness of our lives, traffic snarls, longer commute times, our oft need for immediate help, and now, of course, COVID-19, the challenge to stay connected in a newly distanced world is more critical than ever.  

And that’s why telemedicine, or telehealth, which has grown and trended smoothly for the longest time, has now taken off in ways none of us could have ever imagined.  

Just this year alone, in the wake of COVID-19, one telehealth company is reporting over 20,000 visits per month, a near doubling of their intake since early March when the throes of COVID-19 first hit. And now, just like the discussion over telecommuting has taken on a whole new light, the same is true for telemedicine, as people review what role it will play even as we slowly get back to ‘normal,’ whatever normal is, or whatever that will be. 

In nine of every ten visits, telehealth can address many issues, such as allergies, colds, possible COVID-like symptoms, and, especially powerful today, mental health. The fact is telemedicine can help address these issues much the same way as telephonic employee assistance plans (EAP’s) have been doing for some time. 

For the last two years, many health insurance carriers have been offering telemedicine as a complimentary service. It is subject only to a co-pay, and now, in COVID-19’s awakening, carriers have been providing the service at no charge whatsoever, no matter the reason for the call.  

Mind you, other types of technology-based telemedicine have been around for several years. Such examples include patients wearing monitors that can transfer data in real-time to hospitals or a team of doctors or nurses to be sure heartbeats or blood sugar levels are in constantly good order. Right alongside telemedicine visits, these sorts of things help improve efficiency, better manage chronic diseases, reduce costs, and improve the percentage of re-admittance into hospitals, which is such a huge cost driver in today’s health care world.  

That said, not everyone is sold on telehealth. Some still feel a doctor can’t possibly treat or diagnose like he or she could in person. There are always privacy concerns, much like purchasing goods and sharing your credit card over the internet.  

Yet, one survey suggests that over 90% of all physicians feel that ‘virtual’ care is beneficial in terms of increased access, communication, and patient satisfaction.  

Now, as an extension of group carrier telehealth, new companies are entering the same space, providing employer groups both telehealth and EAP services right from the convenience of a phone app. Vendors such as HealthiestYou and HealthJoy allow employees the ability to seek all sorts of medical help and advice with just the tap of their phone screen. Functions include near immediate access to doctors, drug discounts, and quick and easy summaries of their medical dental and vision benefits, including their insurance ID cards stored safely. 

It’s truly the new wave of the world. Mind you, not everyone (especially in third world countries), has technology access, but that is growing day by day, and as a financial expert once said, if you have a phone, you have yourself a bank. 

By transference, if you have a phone, you have access to medical care.  Just like it was so many years ago. 

Mom, thank you for taking care of us. Thank you for dialing. And thank you, Dr. Dwaihy, for always answering. 

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.