Telemedicine is experiencing explosive growth as more people seek medical attention without having to venture into a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital.
Virtual visits are expected to surpass the billion mark this year, according to Forrester Research, which adjusted its numbers after COVID-19 began its spread.
Most of those early visits are related to the new coronavirus. But even for general care, the projection for remote visits soared from 36 million to 200 million. An 80 million increase in mental health visits is also expected, according to analysts.
“At times like this with the ongoing coronavirus, if you want to see a doctor and don’t want to go to a doctor’s office, where germs are more likely to spread, you can accomplish many things through video chat or even sending a email your doctor, “said Joel Keehn, research editor at Consumer Reports.
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When it comes to telehealth, consumers have an increasing number of options.
Experts say to start by consulting with your personal doctor. Many have begun to offer some form of telemedicine.
Then check with your insurance company. Many offer access to a virtual doctor visit or a way for a health care provider to come to your home.
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If you don’t have insurance, or even if you do, many retail urgent care or walk-in clinics offer quick video consultations for a flat fee. For example, the CVS Minute Clinic has video visits 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for $ 59.
The number of private companies offering virtual tours is growing, such as Texas-based Remedy. More and more tech companies are moving into the healthcare space, offering virtual healthcare, such as California-based Carbon Health, which launched the virtual healthcare service in Texas on Monday.
Telemedicine is not a complete replacement for in-person visits, but it can be a convenient way to get medical care for a variety of illnesses and problems. It can also help you decide if you need to go to a doctor’s office or the emergency room.
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