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The upward trend in “telemedicine:” visiting the doctor’s office virtually


(KESQ) – When you’re sick, getting to the doctor is often the best and quickest way to start feeling better. Doctors used to make house calls…now the newest trend in medicine lets you make the call. “Telemedicine” is a new trend where patients see a doctor virtually — either through an app or a form of video chat. These virtual doctor appointments can save patients time and dollars.

One young patient, Jackson, had a history of severe allergies that required him to see a specialist. For years., that meant packing up and traveling hours for a single office visit.

“He was seven and a half weeks premature and he’s had breathing problems ever since he was born,” said Jackson’s mother.

Thanks to some clever thinking and technology, now he only has to travel a few miles to a doctor’s office where he virtually visits Dr. Jay Portnoy.

Telemedicine is fast. No more waiting rooms; connect to a doctor instantly via phone or email

“The only thing I can’t physically do is reach in through the screen and actually touch the patient,” said Dr. Portnoy.

Today, visits just like this…with a doctor, often require no travel at all.

“During tax season, I can’t go sit in a doctor’s office for however long when I knew what the problem was,” said Justin Wright, another telemedicine patient.

He says October is one of his busiest times of the year. A swollen eye and a slight tick cried out for a visit to a doctor, which would take time he says he didn’t have to spare. His wife said, “There’s an app for that.”

“As busy as we get that time of year, I don’t have time to do that, to sit in a waiting room. I mean, the whole process was like ten minutes, they called in my prescription, I was able to go pick it up and didn’t miss a beat,” said Wright.

On the surface, the time saved using telemedicine is obvious. But for millions of Americans the savings aren’t just measured in time. They can be measured in dollars.

“Because it does save time. It’s saves staff from our standpoint,” said Dr. Jana Hill.

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Telemedicine can require no travel, no gas, no hotel stay for out of town visits…but also no money at all depending on a patient’s provider.

“There are some companies that provide completely free virtual house calls, so it’s a zero cost some employers provides so that’s obviously huge savings versus a $50 copay to come to urgent care when you can get the same care over the computer,” said Dr. Hill.

Dr. Jana Hill works with patients almost exclusively through telemedicine: “It’s still the same concept. You’re still listening to the patient and you’re still making a diagnosis based on what they’re telling you,” she said.

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