Telehealth, or telemedicine, is on the rise in the United States. The use of telehealth has grown 643% in the last 5 years!
Telehealth is communicating with a health care provider over the computer or over the phone.
There are now “virtual urgent care”, where a patient can call a telehealth service on their phone or computer for minor conditions such as pink eye, bladder infections, or cold and flu symptoms. If needed, the telehealth doctor or nurse practitioner can call in a prescription to the patient’s local pharmacy.
Telehealth can be very helpful for those in rural communities with limited access to health care, for those with transportation problems.
Many individuals with mental health problems are now utilizing telehealth. Mental health visits now account for 31% of telehealth visits.
Telehealth is also being used for patients with substance abuse, such as opioid addiction. The patients can receive counseling and treatment from a trained addiction specialist.
The average cost of a telehealth visit is about $50, and some health insurers are covering these visits. This compares to the average office visit at about $150, or an ER visit for a minor condition which averages $650.