How Telemedicine Services Measure Up to In-Person Doctor Visits

Updated: Jul 17, 2018

Telemedicine is quickly becoming a preferred method of seeking medical care over the standard, in-person doctor visits. Though some healthcare facilities are hesitant to make the change, patients themselves are demanding the service due to several key benefits:

Increased Time With Your Doctor

We've all had to sit in the waiting room at our local healthcare facility for an hour or more just to see the doctor for a couple of minutes. It's more than frustrating to watch your doctor hurry off to the next patient before you've even processed what questions you'd like to ask them. Tabitha Martin of Arizona told us about her ghost of a doctor-

"I have seen my actual primary care physician one time. He has been my PCP for two years and I didn’t even meet him until over a year in. I would always schedule with him and he would send in the nurse practitioner instead OR lately they have just been sending in a nurse and a medical student. So I get basically zero time with my doctor. The one time I did see him, he was in the room for a few minutes and every question I asked him about my thyroid condition, he told me to google. Very 'helpful'."

To be fair, many doctors are acutely aware that more time with their patients is critical, but the pressure from on-high to keep the assembly line moving along is difficult to resist if you want to keep your job, and increasing demands from insurance companies ensure that physicians have zero extra time to offer.

Telemedicine is a much more streamlined system for doctors and patients, freeing up time to allow visits that can be as long as an hour or more.

“We can have a much more substantial conversation," says our own Dr. Molly Roberts of LightHearted Medicine. "I can spend the time really listening to what you have to say before we come up with a plan together for how to proceed. I have time to explain the science behind what’s going on in your body and the pros and cons of the treatment options so that you understand exactly what’s going on and we can be partners in your health journey.”

Well-Suited For Chronic Illness, Mental Health, Emotional Counseling, and Functional Medicine

Obviously, telemedicine is not suited for all health concerns. If you need an ingrown toenail removed, you’re going to need to see someone in person to do the removing. But if that ingrown toenail was the final straw in a series of health problems that have decreased your joy, vitality, and productivity, seeing a doctor over telemedicine who can do a more in-depth analysis of your overall health could be just the thing you need.

Chronic disease is a massive problem in the United States. According to the CDC, as of 2012, about half of all adults - 117 million people - had one or more chronic health conditions. One in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions. Traditional medicine is therefore evolving toward a much more functional approach. But not everyone has caught up.

A traditional doctor might diagnose your disease and find a medication that matches it, but a Functional Medicine Physician sees you as a unique being, with your own genes, biochemical make-up, stresses, and environment. Their goal is to find and treat the source of your disease. This process takes time and requires regular visits with your doctor for a while to check on your progress and reevaluate your goals. The process is made much easier when you can see your doctor on your own schedule, from the comfort of your own home or office.

Access To Your Preferred Doctor

Doctors in the U.S. are still bound to the state(s) in which they are licensed, but telemedicine gives everyone in those states access, which means that you no longer have to settle for a doctor because their office is half-way between your home and your daughter’s preschool. In fact, you can sit at home in your pajamas and sip some wine while you visit with your doctor. The right physician won’t hold it against you.

For those wondering, Drs. Bruce and Molly Roberts of LightHearted Medicine are both licensed in California and Arizona, which means that residents of either state can set up telemedicine visits (right now, if you like!). Dr. Molly is additionally licensed in Oregon.

"I would go be seen by Dr. Roberts if he was in the hull of a cargo ship," says Laur A., a passionate patient who doesn't care how or where she sees Dr. Bruce. "He exudes compassionate, wise, attentive care - long accepted as a bygone luxury with medical care. I just was so moved to find true care that I had to let the world know, true integrative care is possible! I felt safe to speak about all my issues and not be judged, but get support and care. It feels almost magical."

Insurance, Labs, and Prescriptions Made Simple

Many insurance companies have woken up to the value of telemedicine. To support this process, California now has a state law requiring that insurance companies cover telemedicine services.

Labs and prescriptions are handled exactly the same as always- prescriptions are sent in to your local pharmacy and labs can be taken care of at your local blood draw site. But here at LightHearted Medicine, we've found ways to streamline some of these processes even further. Specialty labs can be sent to your home or office for you to do on your own time, you can order supplements on our website to be shipped to you regularly, and we can even suggest a local mobile phlebotomist who can come to your home and draw blood for your labs, whenever is most convenient for you.

Don't Be Intimidated!

If you happen to be of an age where technology is daunting, this should ease your worry: A 2014 controlled study of eleven nursing homes provided the first indications that switching from on-call to telemedicine physician coverage during off hours could reduce hospitalizations and therefore generate cost savings to Medicare in excess of the facility’s investment in the service. So while the majority of patients who have caught on to telemedicine are younger and more tech-savvy, it turns out your Nana is hip to it too! And here at LightHearted Medicine, we've made the process as simple and user-friendly as possible. So why not find out for yourself what telemedicine services can do for you? Set up your completely free 30-minute consultation with us and let us partner with you on your journey towards a more healthy, lighthearted life!

- Katlyn Roberts, Community Manager at LightHearted Medicine.