INDIANAPOLIS — With seven children ranging in age from two to fourteen, coordinating doctor’s visits can be a challenge for Katie McDaniel.
But now when an unexpected illness arises, all the Carmel mom has to do is grab her mobile device.
“I was able to use ‘Video Visits’ for three of my kids,” she said.
She’s talking about IU Health’s version of the state’s new telemedicine law, which allows Hoosiers to visit with a healthcare professional via their mobile device.
The law, which takes effect Friday, July 1, in Indiana, has already been in place in most other states.
McDaniel took advantage of IU Health’s trial version when, on three separate occasions, her children needed medical attention.
“As a parent of seven, our life is very full and so sometimes fitting in those doctor’s visits can be overwhelming or time-consuming,” she said. “So it’s really convenient to be able to just pick up the phone and dial in, see the doctor.”
Patients can download an app, depending on their healthcare provider of choice. After providing login information and the basic medical background, they are face-to-face with a real live medical professional.
The visits generally take about 20 minutes. Doctors are able to diagnose basic ailments and even prescribe medication.
“This really provides a richer, interactive experience,” said Dr Jonathan Gottlieb with IU Health. “Certainly, it’s a good way to avoid driving the car, parking in the parking lot, waiting in the waiting room for things like a sore throat, urinary tract infection, asthma, that kind of thing.”
This new experience can also mean significant savings in healthcare costs, by eliminating the need to visit the emergency room or urgent care center for minor ailments simply because it’s after hours.
“Some of our clients, like FedEx, pay millions of dollars a year in ER visits and they know 20-30 percent of those were cases that didn’t need to be in the ER,” said Anthem Vice President John Jesser.
He expects not only businesses, but busy moms, college students, and business travelers to benefit most.
“It’s 9 at night, one of the children doesn’t feel well, they have to think about the next day, calling out of school, out of work,” Jesser said. “Instead, they can log in to see a doctor and have the issue resolved in about 15 minutes.”
Those who utilize the virtual visits will be paired with whichever medical professional is available. It’s not meant to replace a traditional doctor’s visit, or that relationship with a personal physician, but to offer a convenient option. All medical records are accessible to the patient’s own personal physician.
And doctors online can only prescribe non-controlled substances, no narcotics or addictive substances, or anything with street value.
The cost of each visit depends on the healthcare provider and whether or not it’s covered under an insurance plan. Average cost is about $49.
McDaniel is sold on the new convenience.
‘They were actually very thorough and we felt like they were able to get the correct diagnosis and we felt very comfortable,” she said.