Imagine a world where a person doesn’t have to physically drive to the doctor’s office. Instead of sitting in a cold office waiting for hours, they get to sit comfortably in their own home wearing pajamas as they speak with their doctor. That future is now and Aetna has implemented and expanded these conveniences to their consumers via telemedicine (or televideo). Aetna uses a service called Teladoc. This structured program gives members access to physician care by telephone or the web. Aetna is offering telemedicine services through Aetna Resources for Living and to fully-insured behavioral health members in 34 states that mandate coverage. If a patient has a self-insured plan with Aetna starting October 1, 2017, the expanded telemedicine service will be made available to them.
Telemedicine involves having a remote patient-doctor consultation through technology. A patient will be able to do a videoconference on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. This is especially useful in areas that are high in traffic and for patients that want to talk to a doctor about a very minor problem that they have. Telemedicine will help both doctors and patients save time, which makes everyone happier.
“The tools of the future are here that can allow consumers and physicians to engage in more effective and efficient care of minor illnesses. Telemedicine also can play a critical role in improving health and managing chronic disease,” said Andrew Baskin, M.D., vice president and national medical director for quality performance at Aetna.
Aetna did not create telemedicine to replace traditional office visits and emergency care. Rather, it is here to offer convenience to the doctor and the patient. It also helps build an alternative relationship with primary care physicians. Elderly people who can’t travel easily will find this tool to be useful. People who don’t have two hours in their day to spare for a visit to a doctor. Rural residents will also find telemedicine to be especially useful in their lives.
As with any new technology, telemedicine is still trying to find its place in people’s everyday lives. Most older citizens struggle to grasp the concept and use of new technology. Policy makers are currently considering ways to implement the technology broadly.
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