Virtual reality physicians are on the rise, due in part to new technology but also the fact that Obamacare has required many patients to switch from existing doctors. Online chatting using video conferencing services with doctors isn’t new. However, many doctor’s offices and patients held off from using the service because insurance companies just don’t cover it. Now, that’s changing thanks to Teladoc.
What Is Teladoc?
Teladoc is a telemedicine company changing the way patients and doctors interact because it’s worked with employers and major health insurance companies to pay for these remote consultations the same as they would a traditional in-office visit. The company saw revenue double in 2013 and again in 2015 as a result of more companies coming on board for the service. And, Teladoc managed to secure a $50 million Series F fundraising round, providing the company with a total of $100 million in funding to date.
The growth of the company comes directly from the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. The law encourages doctor’s offices and employers to take advantage of telemedicine because it’s less expensive overall, especially compared to a trip to the ER. The law has encouraged companies like Blue Shield of California and health insurer Oscar to get on board.
Now, more than half of all large employer plans provide for health coverage in telemedicine form, which is up 28% from 2014, according to Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health. Teladoc is the largest provider with eight million patients and 4,000 clients, and, to meet those needs 550 doctors who are on-call for the service.
Doctors can “sign in” to provide services when they can do so, such as when they are not meeting with patients in-office or pulling in hospital shifts. It’s the Uber for doctors. These doctors can help with many ailments including flu symptoms and infections. They can prescribe medication, too. Only about 1 percent of patients end up at the ER and about 6 percent end up having to visit their doctor in person, making the venture incredibly successful and effective.