This past November, I had a sore throat and a cough that I just could not kick. I first went to an urgent care center, but a few days later, my symptoms were still persistent and I needed relief. Since it was 11 p.m. and my primary care physician (PCP) was not available, I decided to give my telemedicine benefit through MDLIVE a shot. I had never used it before, but I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to try it out. Luckily, I had already registered my account, so all I had to do was list my symptoms in a brief form. I even uploaded a throat selfie, so the doctor could see the redness. (Then, of course, my 12-year-old daughter needed to take a throat selfie as well.)
Convenience That Can’t Be Beat
I chose to have the next available doctor call me instead of waiting on hold. I received a call back in no time. You also have the option to video chat with the doctor or just talk to them on the phone. I chose to talk to the doctor on the phone.
The doctor I spoke with (who also happened to be the sweetest doctor I have ever spoken to) diagnosed my symptoms and prescribed me an antibiotic and a cough suppressant.
While I was on the phone with him, I remembered that the pharmacy I registered my account with wasn’t open 24/7, so while still on the phone, I changed my pharmacy to one that was open 24/7 but still close to my home. As soon as I hung up, I got a call from the pharmacy that my prescription was ready. When I went to pick up my prescription, the cough suppressant wasn’t there. Luckily, I was able to text the doctor I had just spoken with and he called it in quickly! I picked up my antibiotic and cough suppressant, headed back home, took my medicine, and went to bed. In the morning, I felt significantly better and made my way into work.
All in all, my experience with telemedicine only took about 15 minutes!
Common uses for telemedicine
Telemedicine is a great resource when you are dealing with minor illnesses or conditions such as:
- The common cold
- The flu
- Ear problems
- Insect bites/rash
- Pink eye
What to expect
If you’ve never used telemedicine before, it’s helpful to know what to expect. On a telemedicine call, providers can:
- Provide a treatment plan.
- Prescribe medications.
- Diagnose children.
- Send notes to your PCP.
As a telemedicine patient, you can:
- Upload photos of rashes, etc.
- Schedule an appointment and ask a provider to call you back instead of waiting on the phone.
Registration Made Easy
I recommend registering your MDLIVE account ahead of time so that when you need to use it, it’s ready to go. In fact, registering on MDLIVE couldn’t be easier with their new virtual assistant, Sophie, who simulates a text conversation and walks you through the registration steps. Registering only takes five to ten minutes, depending on how much detail you want to include. I first registered via text using Sophie to get my username and password and then later logged into the website on my computer to provide more details and link my PCP and pharmacy information.
As an account executive, I promote telemedicine to my employer groups by hosting live seminars and sign-up promotions where we meet with a group of employees and have an open dialogue about telemedicine. We also help people register online. Telemedicine is a safe, secure, and convenient way to access immediate care in the comfort of your own home or office. You could even call on your lunch break if you cannot get in to see your PCP.
Telemedicine by the Numbers
Nearly 700,000 of our members have access to telemedicine benefits through MDLIVE. Almost 70 of our large group customers offer this benefit to their employees. Many group customers choose to offer telemedicine to their employees because it’s a valuable benefit, and it also decreases absenteeism and costs. It’s also interesting to note that:
- Adoption of telemedicine is growing. IBX members doubled their usage of the telemedicine benefit from 2017 to 2018.
- Most members use it during the week, primarily in the morning or afternoon.
- Members between the ages of 25 to 44 use it the most.
Maximizing My Benefit
I have a high-deductible health plan, so telemedicine is a convenient and affordable option for me. I find that the biggest hurdle is remembering you have the benefit available to you! Because of this, I found it helpful to put the MDLIVE app on the home screen of my phone as a reminder.
I hope my experience has encouraged you to give telemedicine a shot the next time you’re in a pinch for care. Once you try it out, I think you’ll be impressed with the quality and convenience.
*Some plans do not include coverage for telemedicine services. Check your benefits booklet to determine if telemedicine is currently available for you.
 Data through October 2018; Data provided by MDLIVE, Inc.