Perspectives On VideoMedicine

June 9th, 2017

Over the past several months, here on the blog, we have featured articles about Liberty HealthShare's cooperation with VideoMedicine. Our relationship with this company makes it possible for members to see a doctor via a secure video platform accessible through a smartphone app.

Thanks to Liberty's billing technology, eligible costs incurred for VideoMedicine visits can be processed rapidly and either be applied to members' AUA or submitted for sharing. We're happy that this service makes our members' access to healthcare more satisfactory and convenient.You may or may not be aware that the costs associated with emergency room and urgent care visits are one of our largest avoidable expenses. Not only do these kinds of visits put a strain on our community's resources, but they are also often unnecessary. VideoMedicine can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, making it possible for our members to avoid those treatments and charges that are not needed. Members can walk away from a VideoMedicine encounter knowing whether they will need to pursue treatment further and in most cases, will have the resolution they were seeking.

A VideoMedicine visit also costs far less than what it takes to visit a traditional doctor's office. The cost is cut in half for a typical office visit, with specialist visits costing a third of the usual expense. As more and more Liberty members make the decision to give VideoMedicine a try, several of them have contacted us to share their experiences. Member Charles H. from California recently tried VideoMedicine and shared his impressions with us:

"Wow. The time elapsed from when I initiated an appointment request until I hung up the call was 4 minutes and 38 seconds. That is less time than I would have spent on the phone with my general practitioner's staff getting an appointment. I would have had to drive a total of 30 minutes for an appointment and I would have been in his waiting room at least 15 minutes before he saw me. Dr. Fowler was pleasant. He asked appropriate questions to make a diagnosis, made a recommendation about treatment, and we were done! My total cost was $45.00. My general practitioner would have charged me $120.00 to tell me I needed an antibiotic. This is great."

Thanks for letting us know about your experience, Charles! We are so glad our members are finding VideoMedicine to be an affordable and user-friendly method of accessing medical care when a visit to your own doctor isn't convenient or possible.

Using a smartphone in place of a face-to-face visit requires a bit of a paradigm shift for both patients and providers, but for doctors who are open to it, VideoMedicine presents an opportunity to reach a wider range of patients. We understand you may have questions about the providers you will encounter through VideoMedicine. Louis Fowler, MD (the doctor referenced above) is a family practitioner from Florida. We recently talked with him about his experience with VideoMedicine.

After graduating from medical school, Dr. Fowler entered the United States Navy, working as a flight surgeon aboard the USS America, an aircraft carrier. Drawing a connection between his time in the Navy and his current work as a family practitioner, he recalls, "It was on the carrier that I found my calling. With 5,000 sailors aboard I had to become adept at diagnostics and triage. I continue to use those skills today."

When asked what made him choose to work with VideoMedicine, Dr. Fowler stated that "they treat their doctors well, with approachability and humility." He continued, "VideoMedicine lends itself to what I already do in my family practice: prevention and diagnostics. I determine the medical issue with my patient and prescribe treatment. If need be, a consultation with a specialist is ordered." From a logistics perspective, he added: "VideoMedicine is easy and convenient to work with."

We asked Dr. Fowler what is his favorite part about the VideoMedicine model, and he named several. "I like being available to help patients in whatever way I can. I also like that VideoMedicine is not just convenient for me, but also for the patient." As we have mentioned in past features, VideoMedicine comes in handy for patients who, for any number of reasons, cannot get out to see the doctor. In reference to this capability, Dr. Fowler noted, "Because we conduct visits over a video connection, I can easily see and assess what is going on with most patients and offer them the reassurance they need."

Referring to what could use improvement in our present healthcare industry, Dr. Fowler said that outside forces "keep trying to remedy the issues within the healthcare system," and that they need to "bow out and leave the relationship to doctor and patient." He also believes a lot of good could come from increased availability of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) so Americans have more freedom to direct their care the way they and their physicians see fit. Since Liberty HealthShare members are savvy consumers who have decided to leave behind the bureaucratic system that largely dominates the American healthcare experience, the philosophy both Dr. Fowler and VideoMedicine embody are a perfect fit.

We asked Dr. Fowler what he would say to someone who is considering using VideoMedicine for the first time. "It certainly helps to be technologically adept. If you're familiar with Skype or FaceTime, it works in much the same way. And if you need technical assistance, contact the VideoMedicine support staff, and they can help you out." He also mentioned the importance of good lighting if you need to show the doctor something specific, and encouraged potential patients to keep in mind that this is just like any other interaction with a doctor. "Be prepared to speak to them and to explain what your problem is." This will help you to have a positive experience that yields the treatment or next steps you need.

We're thankful to Dr. Fowler for spending some time with us and for being part of the growing group of doctors who are doing their part to bring sanity, financial stewardship, and a personal level of care back to the field of healthcare. We're also grateful that VideoMedicine offers Liberty HealthShare members the opportunity to interact with caring practitioners like him.

For more information about VideoMedicine and instructions on using the app, read this blog post. To set up an account now, visit the VideoMedicine portal.