Telemedicine via Skype

With healthcare costs skyrocketing, there are some who are getting creative in helping to make care more affordable, especially for those in financial need. One way physicians are doing that: seeing patients via Skype.

One doctor in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. Lee Montgomery, uses it for follow-ups or to evaluate minor problems. He says it is not appropriate in a situation where a patient requires a diagnosis, and certainly in any emergency situation. But it’s one way he enables some of his patients, who otherwise couldn’t afford it,  to access his care because it costs a fraction of the price of a regular office visit. If you pay $30 per month for his membership program, Skype visits cost just $10.

But Skype isn’t all about reducing costs. Dr. Spero Theodorou, a plastic surgeon from New York, uses it as a screening tool to determine whether potential patients are likely to be good candidates for a cosmetic procedure called SmartLipo. He uses it not to reduce costs, but as a time-saving tool for his patients.

Dr. Loren Olson, a psychiatrist from Iowa, practices at six different sites, including some which are inner city. He estimates that approximately 50% of patients with serious mental illness are not accessing healthcare services, so Skype visits present a new opportunity for at least some of those patients to get the care they need. Skype visits aren’t as intimate as in-person consults, but for some patients, the alternative to Skype visits is not visiting at all. And he once had a patient inadvertently ask for a glass of water during a Skype session, so in his experience, patients can become as immersed through Skype as in-person.

Right now, most insurance carriers won’t pay for Skype visits, but that may change in the future.

Submitted by Dave Schlosser, Patient Navigator LLC

About Elisabeth Schuler Russell

The curator of this blog is Elisabeth Schuler Russell, Founder and President of Patient Navigator, LLC. Her goal is to inform readers about important healthcare topics and teach them to become informed healthcare consumers.
This entry was posted in Chronic Disease, Elder Care, Health Care Reform, Insurance, Mental Health, Other health issues, Patient Centered Care, Problem Solving, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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