How Telehealth and Drugstore Clinics Can Improve Our Health Care

Telehealth services are increasingly being offered throughout the United States. These services are working to provide improved health care for all Americans. Video health care, or telehealth measures, give people immediate access to medical professionals who can effectively diagnose and treat injuries and illnesses. A growing number of drugstore clinics have also gotten into the telehealth game recently, driving the telemedicine trend even further.

CVS Health recently announced that they will be introducing internet access for their MinuteClinic treatment facilities in many states. Although these clinics in CVS drugstore locations can be more convenient than going to a doctor’s office, they can still have wait times of several hours during peak times. So, CVS has found a solution. They’ll also be offering the ability for patients to gain access to medical professionals (like nurse practitioners and physician assistants) 24/7 from their mobile devices. All they’ll have to do is log on through the CVS Pharmacy app (available for both iPhone and Android users) to get treated.

Each patient has to complete a health questionnaire indicating their medical history and current issue; then they’re matched to a board-certified health care provider that’s licensed in their state. The provider goes over the questionnaire and conducts a video-enabled visit to assess the patient’s condition and come up with an appropriate treatment plan. Providers can even prescribe medications through this service (and they don’t have to be filled at CVS pharmacies). They can also make referrals if they determine that an in-person doctor’s visit would be better for that particular case. These video visits typically last about 15 minutes. That means it’s a quick and easy doctor’s visit conducted right from your phone, without you ever having to leave the house!

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CVS has introduced internet access for their MinuteClinic treatment facilities in many states.

There are tons of benefits to interacting with a medical professional in a MinuteClinic or straight through the app – the main one being that patients can now get care whenever and wherever they need it. When they’re seen by a doctor doesn’t depend on how many other patients need to be treated, so they’re able to get immediate care. Patients who live in rural or remote areas can also have more access to treatment without having to worry about transportation to a facility. Increased access means there’s a more even distribution of care for people throughout the country.

Another great benefit is that these clinics and video chats are much cheaper than an in-person doctor’s office or emergency room visit. In fact, using the MinuteClinic online service costs just $59 with a credit or debit card. Some reports say that an average ER visit typically costs around $2,000, which represents a huge amount of savings. Currently, insurance isn’t taken by CVS for telehealth visits, but the company is working on getting insurance coverage in the future. This service can also be extremely helpful for those individuals without health insurance, since everything can be paid for out-of-pocket. Plus, with a set flat rate, patients can’t be nickel and dimed with added costs. This, in turn, will help make health care more affordable and accessible for people at any income level.

There aren’t many restrictions on who can use the telehealth services, either. As long as the patient is two years old and up, they can use these telehealth options for a variety of minor injuries and illnesses including:

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Colds and coughs
  • Earaches
  • Flu
  • Sinus infections
  • Sore throats
  • Upset stomachs
  • Women’s services (like UTIs)
  • Minor injuries

Since patients can be treated for these types of conditions (among others), it means that there will be reduced wait times in emergency rooms and urgent care clinics. Individuals with non-life-threatening issues can be treated with video visits, so patients with more serious problems will be able to see a doctor more quickly. In fact, the American Medical Association and Wellness Council of America states that more than 75% of doctor, urgent care, and emergency room visits can be handled through a video chat.

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More and more drugstores across the U.S. are getting involved in telemedicine by offering telehealth services.

Other drugstore chains are also getting into the telemedicine race. Rite Aid has begun to work with telehealth service provider, InTouch Health, to add telehealth kiosks to their pharmacies. It’s likely an increasing number of stores will continue to implement these services to help better serve their customers. And it seems that many people are more than happy with the care they’re getting through these telehealth options. A CVS Health study noted that more than 95 percent of patients who used the video chats were highly satisfied with the quality of care they received. The same study indicated that 95% of patients were satisfied with the convenience and overall experience of the telehealth option, making it a no-brainer for choosing it in the future.

As telemedicine becomes more mainstream as time goes by, it’s likely more people in the U.S. will have access to quality health care. Patients won’t be limited by their location or whether there are certain medical professionals in their area. Treatment options will be more affordable, because providers won’t be able to charge added fees for office visits or expensive emergency room care. Overall, drugstore clinics and telehealth services like CVS’ MinuteClinic will help to improve both access to and the cost of health care for the whole country.

How Will Telemedicine Change The Lives Of Medical Professionals In The Future?

Telemedicine will likely result in a vast array of consequences – some exciting and positive, some challenging and even negative – for professionals who work in many different areas of the medical field. The future is very uncertain as technology, and therefore telemedicine, continues to develop and improve at break-neck speed. Many medical professionals will need to retrain, adapt, and evolve in order to cope. The requirements and skills to work (and flourish) within the medical industry will change. Some careers will hugely benefit, other careers will come to an unexpectedly early end. Here are some ways in which telemedicine will change the lives of medical professionals in the future.

Certain Jobs Will Become Obsolete

One of the most dramatic effects of telemedicine on the lives of medical professionals could be that some of them will perhaps end up losing their current jobs. As telemedicine technology improves, many positions within the medical industry may well become obsolete. Traditionally crucial jobs, such as doctor’s surgery receptionists and various types of nurse practitioner, may no longer be needed as more and more consultations are done remotely using telemedicine. Other medical industry jobs may end up being done better (without the possibility of human error) by telemedicine devices or apps. For medical professionals in these positions, it will be necessary to retrain for other positions, either within the medical industry or in another field.

Less Crowding in Emergency Rooms

As telemedicine improves, one of the major benefits will be that ERs will become less busy. More and more patients with minor illnesses that would previously have reported to ER (such as anxiety attacks, heart palpitations, mild food poisoning, or minor sprains) will be diagnosed and treated remotely using telemedicine technology. This will be a great thing for medical professionals who work in ERs, as it will mean that they can work in increasingly calmer and less crowded surroundings. Medical professionals will be able to dedicate more time to treating acutely ill patients who arrive in the ER with life-threatening conditions instead of wasting time dealing with only slightly ill patients who don’t actually need face-to-face emergency treatment.

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Communication methods between physicians and their patients are set to improve through telemedicine.


More Efficient Communication With Patients

Telemedicine will make it much easier for medical professionals to have efficient communication with their patients. Frequent, high-fidelity, comprehensive communication between a physician and their patients will become easier and easier to achieve as telemedicine improves in the future.

Easier to Market to Patients in a Wider Catchment Area

For many medical professionals, improvements in telemedicine technology will massively increase the number of potential patients that they can market their services to. Traditionally, the people physicians could market their services to was limited by geographical proximity. Using telemedicine, a medical professional will be able to work with people on more and more complex consultations from much greater distances. This will particularly benefit medical professionals who offer elective procedures, such as plastic surgeons and aesthetic dentists. The ease with which preoperative consultations for these types of procedures can be done remotely using telemedicine will mean that medical professionals can market to patients all over the world.

Increased Requirement to be Tech-Savvy

For most of medical history, there has been at least some onus on doctors and physicians to stay up-to-date with advances in medical knowledge. In more recent times, and in most fields and jurisdictions, there has been a regulatory requirement that medical professionals undertake regular retraining in order for them to stay abreast of advances and modern best practices. As telemedicine becomes a more and more popular and important part of the overall field of medicine, medical professionals will need to work harder to stay abreast of changes in modern technology. Being tech-savvy will be increasingly crucial for medical professionals of every ilk. Needing to stay up-to-date with advances in technology as well as medical knowledge will mean that in future medical professionals will need to undertake more constant learning and reskilling than ever before.

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Medical practitioners will be required to be even more tech-savvy as telemedicine use grows.

See a Higher Volume of Patients

One of the major advantages of telemedicine over traditional medicine is that telemedicine is far more time-efficient. A telemedicine consultation can often be done in a fraction of the time that a face-to-face consultation would take. As telemedicine improves, more and more different types of consultation will be able to be done in less and less time. This means that the best medical professionals will be able to fit in more patient consultations than ever before. This may result in the most sought-after physicians having more patients and the less sought-after practitioners losing out on patients, and perhaps ultimately their jobs.

Improved Lifestyle Mobility and Schedule Flexibility

Telemedicine will allow many medical professionals to do a lot more of their work remotely. This will allow many people who work within the field to have much greater flexibility within their schedule and also allow them to work from different locations. Increasingly, medical professionals will be able to pick when and from where in the world they work. Physicians performing consultations, using telemedicine, from exotic beaches while they sip cocktails (non-alcoholic, of course) may become common!

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