Why is my insurance company promoting their telemedicine service to me?

Discount telemedicine service advertisement

Foremost, your insurance company is promoting telemedicine because insurance companies understand the benefits of services like HealthLens. The insurance companies have run the numbers and assessed the effectiveness of telemedicine, and have come to the conclusion that the use of telemedicine is beneficial for the patient. Not only is telemedicine much more convenient than a traditional office, but the proper use of telemedicine can catch serious conditions sooner and improve patient outcomes afterwards.

Your insurance company is also promoting their telemedicine service to you for another reason. By pairing you up with a random healthcare provider on some discount telemedicine service, they are able to save costs. Although this is practical for the insurance company, it does not always guarantee the same level of care that your doctor can offer, whether through telemedicine or office visits. The leading telemedicine experts agree that telemedicine is best performed by doctors who are part of systems where patients already receive care.

When it comes to deciding what telemedicine service is right for you, choose the one that will connect you with a doctor that has already seen you in their office or can see and treat you in their office following the online evaluation.

HealthLens addresses the JAMA Study on Telemedicine

A couple of weeks ago, JAMA published a study that raised concerns about the quality of care being delivered by several telemedicine and teledermatology companies. These findings were quickly scooped up by news outlets and spun into some very sensational stories which concluded all telemedicine is lacking. What many of the stories failed to mention is that while some of the telemedicine companies that were tested are indeed subpar, there are also a handful a telemedicine companies that are leading the industry by providing adequate care for the patients who utilize them.

JAMA According to the researchers, the best telemedicine companies are the ones that connect patients with their own providers. Dr. Jack Resneck, a dermatologist at UCSF, and lead author on the study, told interviewers, “That’s why telemedicine is best performed by physicians and team members who are part of practices or regional systems in which patients already receive care.” For the most serious diagnoses, patients must be able to promptly visit the doctor’s office for additional tests or procedures. Likewise, doctors must be able to follow up with their patients after certain procedures or prescribing medicine. At HealthLens, we strive to connect patients with their own doctors. This way they can always schedule an office visit if the need arises.

Another alarming concern raised in the study is that some telemedicine companies do not let their patients choose their healthcare provider and, as a result, patients can receive diagnoses and treatment recommendations from doctors who are not licensed in the state, or even the country, in which they were providing care. Fortunately for the patients who use HealthLens, this is never an issue. Patients are able to peruse the doctors in their area, review their credentials and practice information, and select the provider that best fits their needs.

When it comes to picking the right telemedicine company, choose the one that your doctor recommends, HealthLens.

Online Care Saves Time for the Patient and the Doctor

Time - photo of clock

Before Kayak and SkyScanner, airline reservations were made over the phone or directly from the airport. Today, 99% of air travel is booked online. Granted, 99% of health care cannot be conducted over the internet, but a growing percentage of health care is being delivered online, successfully too.

Convenience was the obvious and ultimate driver that caused the switch from booking air travel over the phone to on the internet. Similarly, convenience is a driving force behind its growth of online care. For patients and doctors who use HealthLens, it’s no different.

Patients can submit a new online visit in less than 10 minutes. That’s less than the time most people spend in the waiting room. And rather than waiting 2 to 6 weeks before your doctor will see you, most HealthLens doctors evaluate their patients the same day they submit their visit.

Rather than calling the doctor or nurse and trying to describe their condition over the phone, patients now have the ability to send in photos and information about their condition to their doctor over the internet. This allows doctors and their staff to make better assessments and quickly prescribe treatment or call the patient in for an office visit.

As a result, doctors are able to reduce the time they spend on the phone with patients. Early users of HealthLens report 20-25% reductions in the time spent managing medical requests from their patients. This allows doctors to spend less time in the office and still be accessible to their patients.
Like booking flights online, online care is a win-win for the patient and the doctor.

TRAVELLING THIS SUMMER? TAKE YOUR DOCTOR WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO

Beautiful Ko Phi Phi Beach in Thailand with a long tail boat.
Ko Phi Phi

One of the most appealing aspects of travelling is that it takes you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to new things – new sights, new foods, new people, and coincidentally, new hazards. No matter where you go or how many precautions you take, there is always a chance you will need medical attention at some point during your adventure.

Many countries that cater to tourists have clinics where you can stop in and get your ailment diagnosed and treated. These clinics, for the most part, are tolerable and usually resolve the issue. However, nothing beats the security and assurance of having your family doctor poised to offer their professional advice at a moment’s notice. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Nowadays, telemedicine is connecting patients with their doctors wherever there is wifi. For patients who want to connect with their own doctors, they choose HealthLens.

From Kathmandu to Ko Phi Phi, patients have been using HealthLens to get their symptoms evaluated by their doctors in the United States. It’s quick and HIPAA compliant, but most importantly, it lets the patients continue on their adventures.

If you are travelling this summer, don’t forget to bring HealthLens along for the journey. Your doctor will always be just one online visit away.

DEADLY SKIN CANCERS OF THE HANDS AND FEET

Melanoma of the hands or feet can be considerably more deadly than melanoma in other locations. It also is more common in people with darker skin. It is the most common type of melanoma in black and Asian populations. They are often deeper at diagnosis and can involve the nail apparatus. As a result, the photo submitted by this patient was very concerning. However on close inspection you can see the uniformity of pigment and the sharp smooth contours which are not typical of melanoma. The patient was instructed to come to the office where the lesion was opened with a scalpel and revealed to be a hematoma.

Used with permission

COULD THIS BE A SIGN OF PHYSICAL ABUSE ?

If you see a person with a “black eye,” you have to consider that person may have been the victim of an attack. In an injury like that, the dark color is caused by bleeding under the skin’s surface. The color is a dark purple almost becoming black. In these cases, even the blackest eyes have a little purple at the periphery and there is no primary change to the surface of the skin. On close inspection of this case, the color was a dark brown with no purple or red. There also was scale on the surface indicating dermatitis. What on first impression looks like a black eye, close inspection reveals that an attack did not occur. This “black eye” was actually seborrheic dermatitis. The patient cleared very nicely with hydrocortisone ointment.

Used with permission

IS THIS RASH AN EMERGENCY?

Have you been told that if you get red streaks near an area of skin inflammation, you have an infection and need to see a doctor? The patient in the photo reasonably thought that was the case. Red streaks on the skin however represent inflammation of the lymphatic vessels and don’t always mean infection. A ruptured cyst, a foreign body reaction or in this case an insect bite can cause significant inflammation without an infection. Our patient was given a potent topical steroid and cold compresses. Things cleared completely. This would have been a situation where antibiotic use would have been inappropriate.

Used with permission

WHEN CAN’T YOUR DOCTOR BE WRONG

When you visit your doctor about a problem, your doctor needs to make sure that problem does not represent some sort of life threatening issue like cancer. When a physician evaluates a patient on the internet, there are not as many clues to go on to make that judgement so patients and physicians need to know when it is ok to make an educated guess and when you have to be sure of the diagnosis. A growth or a mole can always represent a skin cancer however a localized rash is rarely indicative of a serious medical condition.

The photo below was submitted by a young woman who thought she had ringworm. The doctor thought it looked more like nummular dermatitis but couldn’t be sure just from the photos. He reasoned that a trial of therapy with a topical steroid would not pose a risk of serious harm to the patient. If things didn’t clear, bringing the patient to the office for a KOH test could then be done. The rash cleared with triamcinolone 0.1% ointment.

Used with permission

WHEN SKIN CANCER IS EVEN MORE DANGEROUS

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is usually a mild form of skin cancer that can be very dangerous in certain situations.

This patient noticed a sudden growth of this crusted red nodule on a frequently sun exposed area of his arm that resembled an SCC. Of note, the patient had a kidney transplant several years before. To prevent rejection of his transplanted kidney, the patient takes several medications that suppress his immune system. These immunosuppressive medications can make skin cancers more frequent and aggressive. As a result, anyone using these medications, even for other conditions, has a higher chance of dying from skin cancer. Patients on these medications have to be careful with the sun and should be followed closely by a dermatologist.

Squamous cell carcinoma

OFFICE BACK-UP

This patient was first seen in the office with a red scaly lesion on the arm that appeared to be a precancerous keratosis. It was treated with liquid nitrogen and the patient was instructed to return in six weeks if it hadn’t cleared. Instead the patient submitted this photo to our website. It appeared to be a scab and since the patient was on blood thinners, we thought it was probably ok being so large and dark. Fortunately he returned to the clinic two weeks later as instructed when the scab did not resolve. A biopsy was done and showed an ulcerated, amelanotic melanoma which is an extremely dangerous tumor. This was treated surgically and he has been well since the surgery eighteen months ago.

If this patient was not able to follow up promptly in the office for a biopsy, this life threatening skin cancer may have been much more advanced when finally treated. Practicing teledermatology without office back up should not be considered within the standard of care.

Possible skin cancer