Video Visits Between Patients and Doctors Gain Traction

February 1, 2014

by Theresa Jacobellis

Theresa-JacobellisPersonal com­puters, tablets, and smartphones bring a world of information, commerce, and communication to millions of users wherever they may be. Now, this technology is helping healthcare providers overcome the barriers of cost, distance, and inconvenience to deliver checkups and urgent care to people in their homes, places of business, and retail outlets. Taking advantage of the video capabilities embedded in most digital devices, a growing number of providers are using video visits to interact with patients, assess symptoms, and monitor treatment.

National provider of video visits

Mary Modahl, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at American Well, describes video visits as a “trifecta,” saving time and money while expanding access. De­spite the high cost of the technology infrastructure required to mount a video visit initiative, it turns out that it is a surprisingly affordable health­care option. American Well charges just $45 for a consultation with a provider, and patients pay online using any credit card or medical savings account debit card. Through its agreements with a number of private insurance companies, the Boston-based company also makes video visits available to millions of health insurance plan participants for the cost of a co-pay.

“Typically, online visits are con­siderably less costly … versus an ER or urgent care center visit,” Modahl says.

This affordability is rivaled by the convenience of being able to obtain basic healthcare at any hour of the day or night, from any location.

“It saves … on average two-and-a-half hours for patients to not have to make an appointment, go into an office, and wait,” Modahl says. “Also, [a video visit] offers a way to overcome barriers of geography and distance. So it’s a win-win-win.”

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