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Telemedicine: healthcare of the future?

    We would all love the convenience of not having to leave our house to go to the doctor’s office. It is becoming increasingly popular in most states to have a virtual visit with your provider. However,here in Massachusetts, the legislation does not fully set the guidelines for tele-medicine. Therefore, most insurance companies do not cover or reimburse virtual visits.

     While a virtual appointment does not replace hands-on diagnostic encounters, there are several acute and chronic conditions that can safely be managed through telemedicine. For example, follow up on psychiatric medications, discussion about blood sugar management, some rashes or even some infectious conditions can be safely diagnosed all from the safety of your own home without the added risk of being exposed to new germs (especially during cold and flu season!).

     If it is a safe alternative, why is it not more widely used? Well, like anything else, it comes down to money. Currently, Massachusetts is one of 14 states that does not have the legislation to support reimbursement for telemedicine visits. (The bill was proposed by the House in April but died at the end of July when law makers could not come to an agreement. I know, shocking.) Providers in our current healthcare system are already so swamped with protocols and quotas that adding hours of extra work for no financial compensation doesn’t sound all that appealing.

     This is where direct primary care can step in and make your life exponentially easier. We do not need to have the insurance companies reimburse us for your visit as we do not bill through insurance. Here at Action Medicine, we can skype with our patients or use photos for diagnosis. (Photos?? Yes, photos. We have diagnosed shingles based on the patient’s description of the sensation, distribution and photograph of the rash. We were also able to diagnose a blocked salivary duct from the photo and description, treat the patient, and have a wonderful outcome for a very grateful person who did not have to miss work!)

     Direct primary care is a healthcare model designed to make your life easier. We have cut out the middle man to have a relationship with our patients, hassle free. Make an appointment to come checkout our office and meet our staff. The first visit is complimentary, so you have nothing to lose. Look forward to seeing you soon!

-Brooke Rieth NP

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