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Study: Telehealth Expands Access to Health Care

RAND reports Teladoc consultations less likely to require follow-up care than physician and emergency department visits

(DALLAS) Feb. 6, 2013 – Teladoc, the nation’s largest provider of telehealth services, has been shown to expand access to health care and provide cost savings, according to a study released by the RAND Corporation (RAND). With current physician shortages and misuse of the ER for non-emergent issues, the RAND findings show that Teladoc provides convenient access to high quality health care for patients.

According to the press release issued by RAND, “Interest has grown in telemedicine programs because of the shortage of primary care physicians, which will likely worsen as more Americans acquire medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Telemedicine is one of the alternatives touted as a way to better provide primary health care without greatly expanding the number of doctors. Patients who used the [Teladoc] service suffered from a wide assortment of acute medical problems such as respiratory illnesses and skin problems, and researchers found little evidence of misdiagnosis or treatment failure among those who used the service. RAND researchers say the finding suggests that health problems were most likely adequately addressed during the Teladoc visits.”

“The RAND study helps quantify the significant value Teladoc brings to the health care delivery system,” said Jason Gorevic, CEO of Teladoc.  “Teladoc clearly improves access to care for consumers who are seeking convenient access to quality care, especially during hours when physicians’ offices are closed or the only option is an urgent care center or Emergency Room.”

The study, published in the February edition of the journal Health Affairs, found that more than one-third of visits occurred on weekends and holidays, and patients who used Teladoc were less likely to require follow-up consults, with only six percent doing so compared to 13 percent who visited an office and 20 percent who visited an emergency room. RAND also found telehealth to be a potential entry point to the health care system for people who have difficulty accessing their regular physician, including employees who are unable to take time off work to obtain care. The study points out the distinct advantages of the service because of the use of simple, widely available, inexpensive technologies.

“Teladoc is dedicated to innovation while providing the highest quality of care,” said Gorevic. “This contributes to the cost-savings our clients have seen. The fact that Teladoc patients require significantly less follow-up care than those patients seen in the emergency department or a physician’s office demonstrates that Teladoc’s focus on quality and robust clinical programs are yielding benefits for consumers.”

By managing its own provider network, Teladoc has built the first nationally independent physician network in telehealth. Teladoc’s physicians are board-certified and state-licensed with an average of 15 years of practice. Teladoc’s rigorous credentialing process, proprietary clinical guidelines and ongoing quality assurance efforts ensure the highest quality of care for Teladoc’s members. Teladoc is the first and only telehealth provider to receive certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for its physician credentialing process.

Recognized as one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Health Care; Teladoc leads the health care industry with the only fully integrated clinical, technology and member engagement solution for telehealth. Through Teladoc, patients have on demand access to physicians via phone, secure online video, mobile app or HealthSpot™ Station (a private, walk-in kiosk) to receive treatment for non-emergency medical issues including cold and flu, allergies, bronchitis, skin rashes and sinus problems.

To view the complete study, visit: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/33/2/258.abstract