Making Life Easier: Healthcare Trends for Busy Families
Health and wellness are popular search topics. From timely concerns like how to avoid the common cold or deal with seasonal allergies to more general terms like healthy eating and fitness plans, getting answers to your medical questions has never been easier.
The catch? There is so much information available on the Internet and via social media, how do you know what to trust? Do you trade the speed and convenience of online medical advice for the reliability of a real-life medical professional? The good news is that you don’t have to! The latest trends in healthcare make getting quality medical care in a setting that is convenient for busy parents a reality.
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Technically defined by the National Institutes of Health as the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology, many think of telemedicine as the “Zoom meeting” version of a doctor’s appointment. This method of healthcare, also called Virtual Care, emerged in the 1970s, but developed more in the 1990s as technology was more widely available. However, the healthcare method has gained widespread popularity since 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main benefits of telemedicine are convenience, privacy and cost savings. Many telemedicine providers, including local hospital systems like WellStar and Piedmont HealthCare, offer access to care on the weekends and have on-demand appointment options. Patients can log into a telemedicine visit from the comfort of their own home and discuss concerns without anyone else seeing them. Co-pays are typically less than a traditional office visit, plus there are no parking fees or other costs associated with telehealth visits.
“Various healthcare professionals now efficiently use telehealth to provide care. For those with access to telehealth through apps, mobile browsers or at-home devices, it is revolutionizing patient-provider communication,” says Phindile Erika Chowa, MD, FACEP of EMCare 2U.
Specifically, for pediatric patients, telemedicine can have its limits as many conditions, such as ear infections or strep throat, can be difficult to diagnose without a physical exam. Blueberry Pediatrics, a telehealth provider exclusively for children, is trying to overcome this with their at-home kit of tools that includes a thermometer and ear scope with secure app integration.
House calls, as they were typically called, were the primary method of receiving medical care in America until about 1950. Today’s version of in-home looks a bit different than its predecessor, though, as it is usually combined with concierge medical service, allowing physicians to provide comprehensive regular care to patients.
“Concierge medicine provides convenient access, particularly for individuals with mobility issues. This healthcare innovation caters to postpartum mothers, post-operative patients, individuals with busy schedules, and others who often experience significant stress trying to reach clinic appointments,” explains Chowa. “They can greatly benefit from receiving care in the comfort of their own homes throughout Atlanta.”
This type of healthcare is based on membership with a provider. EMCare 2U offers monthly and annual options, starting at $97, that are designed for individuals and families who prioritize convenience, customized care and direct access to medical professionals. “Concierge medicine creates a tailored plan that should parallel a doctor-patient relationship built on trust and empathy. The ultimate goal of concierge medicine is to bring opportunities for healthy living, preventative care and direct care into people’s homes,” says Chowa.
When you picture a drive-thru, fries and shakes are what you think of, but thanks to a new trend, medical care needs can be addressed without ever getting out of the car. Born out of the COVID-19 drive-thru testing services they offered, a few local businesses have expanded to be able to address a myriad of medical care needs. “Anything that you would go to urgent care for other than a broken bone, we can address while you stay in your car,” explains Stacy Lathrop CEO of SmartMED in Roswell. Lathrop notes that the majority of patients are parents because of the convenience associated with Drive-Thru medicine. “When the whole house gets sick, you’re not sure what it is, and you don’t have the energy to get everyone dressed and to the pediatrician’s office, you can stay in the car, everyone can get swabbed or ears checked. And, you’re out of the drive-thru in 10 minutes,” says Lathrop. At SmartMED, all tests are run on-site, and a medical provider follows up with results and any needed prescriptions within about an hour.
Roswell mom Laura Longergan tried drive-thru medical care based on a friend’s recommendation when she had a sick kid and couldn’t immediately get into the pediatrician. “I have since used SmartMed over 10 times in the last year,” she says. “There are six people in my family ranging in age from 2 to 38, and we have all benefited.” Longeran notes that being able to stay in the car is a game changer. “No more sitting in waiting rooms with sick, crying children!”
Drive-Thru Urgent Care also offers prompt answers to a patient’s medical needs. “All medical complaints can be evaluated in a Viral Solutions drive-thru,” says Chief Operating Officer Bernard Coxton Jr., PA-C. “Most patients who seek care with us can be registered, evaluated and provided with an adequate plan that solves their medical needs without leaving their car. We are much more efficient than the traditional urgent care experience.”
Both SmartMED’s and Viral Solutions’ teams are led by experienced emergency physicians and nurses, so patients can trust in the quality of care they will receive.
Do they take insurance?
- Concierge care does not rely on insurance and the monthly or annual membership fees must be paid out of pocket.
- Most Telemedicine providers are in-network with insurance providers, and the co-pay cost to you is traditionally less than with an in-office visit.
- Both SmartMED and Viral Solutions Drive-Thru medical services are in-network with major insurance providers and co-pay costs are lower than a typical sick visit.
- As with any medical care, always check with your insurance provider for specifics on your benefits before seeking care with a new medical professional or health system.
– Tali Benjamin