Telehealth, also called telemedicine, allows you to receive health care without an in-person visit to a provider by using computer, tablet or smartphone.
Telehealth technically started in the 1940s in Pennsylvania when providers realized they could send radiology images over the phone lines between two townships. In the 1950s, a Canadian doctor expanded on the concept and constructed a teleradiology system that was used in and around Montreal. And in 1967, the University of Miami School of Medicine partnered with a local fire department to transmit electrocardiographic rhythms over radio to Jackson Memorial Hospital in rescue situations.
By the 1960s and 1970s, telehealth started to evolve into more of what we are familiar with today when the Public Health Department, NASA, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department invested time and money for research.
Telehealth can now be used for everything from talking to a doctor in a primary care network about treatment of colds or allergies to getting behavioral health assistance. However, telehealth is not best for every situation, such as when someone is experiencing chest pains or broken bones.
Experts point to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020 as a big reason for the increase in telehealth usage. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study found that the share of Medicare visits conducted via telehealth services in 2020 went up from around 840,000 in 2019 to 52.7 million during peak COVID times.
Reasons for the increase in the use of telehealth often are attributed to:
While your cost for a telehealth visit may vary, you’ll typically be paying less for a telehealth visit than for a traditional office visit, and sometimes there is no cost at all.
Allied National has found that health plan members increasingly expect to have access to telehealth and that is why all of Allied’s Funding Advantage plans have 24/7 access to a telehealth provider with phone and PC access.
Founded in 1970, Allied is one of the nation's oldest and most experienced third-party administrators. As the small group benefit experts, Allied works with small business employers to provide unique and affordable group health benefits.
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Allied National is a 90 Degree Benefits Company, a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. Founded in 1970, Allied National is one of the nation's oldest and most experienced third-party administrators. We're the small group benefit experts working to provide unique and affordable group health benefits to small business employers.