Telemedicine has been on the rise for the past few years because of the speed and flexibility to get access to basic health diagnoses from the convenience of your home. Through telemedicine, you can diagnose a cold, rash, mental or more. In Texas, it can be one of the most affordable options if you have simple care needs, but not all things can be diagnosed via telemedicine.
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What is Telemedicine
Telemedicine increases patient access to physicians and other healthcare providers via an online platform. You can get in touch with your doctor from miles away as opposed to driving to their office and waiting your turn for a 15-minute appointment. Telemedicine is useful for asking questions about symptoms, obtaining doctor’s notes, and refilling prescriptions. It is meant to optimize provider resources, not replace in-person care.
Telemedicine in Texas
In Texas, telemedicine providers are held to the same standards of care for remote services as in-person visits. Currently, you do not need to attend an in-person physician appointment before establishing a relationship with a provider, under Texas state law.
Providers include healthcare professionals who are licensed to practice medicine in Texas and those acting under physician delegation. If you are going to receive ongoing remote care, you must attend one in-person appointment per year.
Benefits of Telemedicine & Telehealth
There are many reasons people are choosing telemedicine in Texas and also across the U.S. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 43% of health centers offered telemedicine or telehealth services. Now 95% of health centers report using long-distance virtual care services. The use of telemedicine isn’t likely to slow down for basic care needs so let’s take a closer look at the biggest benefits of using this type of service.
Telemedicine is convenient
When you aren’t feeling well, the last thing you want to do is leave your bed to sit in a doctor’s office while you wait for your provider. Telemedicine allows you to get a physician’s care with a simple video call without leaving your home.
Telemedicine Can Be Quick
Going to the doctor is a time-consuming endeavor. Taking off from work for a sore throat can sound trivial, but with telemedicine, it is possible to speak with your doctor during your lunch break. No more wasting time or money going to and from your doctor’s office.
Telemedicine is Accessible
Telemedicine in Texas is essential to the health of rural populations. A quarter of the population of Texas lives in rural areas making it difficult to access health services. There may not be adequate transportation to points of care, or a general shortage of specialty providers to get the care you need. Telemedicine in Texas works to close this gap in access to care by helping people seek a professional’s advice without the commute.
Telemedicine is Typically Affordable
Additionally, telemedicine can act as a gatekeeper for more expensive services. Before traveling to the nearest physician for a service you may not even need, telemedicine providers can recommend the best course of action depending on your symptoms.
Most telemedicine visits are less expensive than a normal doctor’s appointment anyway. Below is a chart for average costs (including estimated prescription drug costs) of telemedicine appointments by health concern.
Average Cost of a Telemedicine Visit, by Health Concern
Alexis Bryan MPH, is a recent graduate of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about increasing access to care to improve health outcomes. Outside of work, she loves to travel, read, and pay too much attention to her plants.