It is getting to be that time again. As I approach my birthday, I realize I need to make an appointment to see the doctor for my annual checkup. I like my doctor, but I’m not too fond of the annual visits. Why? Because a single visit amounts to the most expensive 15 minutes ever. I spend a lot of money to be told I am fine.
Calculating an Hourly Rate
How much does the whole affair cost? Basic arithmetic produces a frightening number. For starters, I pay for all my healthcare out-of-pocket. My doctor’s self-pay fee for a standard office visit is $125. That is for fifteen minutes of her time. If I paid for an hour, it would run me $500.
On top of that, I take time off from work. On an average day I can make between $25 and $50 per hour. Let’s go on the low side and assume that the entire visit takes two hours when you consider commuting and waiting room time. That is another $50. Throw in $5 for gas and $250 for the annual blood work and you are looking at an hourly rate of $805. Again, this is all so that the doctor can look at me and tell me I’m fine.
There has to be a better way. Thankfully, there is. That better way is remote annual checkups by way of telemedicine. My doctor just began offering them at the first of the year. You can bet that’s how I will see her this year.
How It Works
My doctor is about twenty miles from where I live. In normal traffic, it takes about 35 minutes to get to her office. But with telemedicine visits now on the table, I can see her from the comfort of my own home. All I need to do is log on to a healthcare portal and begin a video chat. She asks questions, I answer. It is quick, easy, and a lot less expensive. By the way, her rate for telemedicine visits is lower than the office visit rate.
In the event that she needs diagnostic information, I can hop in the car and drive five minutes up the street to a local clinic outfitted with medical kiosks. It costs me a little more, but still not as much as I would spend driving to the office for a face-to-face visit.
Telemedicine Is the Future
When I found out my doctor was offering telemedicine visits, I dug in and started doing some research. It is my opinion that telemedicine is the future. At least it’s the future of primary care. Most of what goes on during a typical primary care visit doesn’t require a face-to-face meeting. It’s mostly talking. And that can be done over video chat.
My research pointed me to a Texas company known as CSI Health. They have been making telemedicine kiosks for more than 40 years. They design and build everything from basic blood pressure kiosks to complete primary care kiosks equipped with all the latest diagnostic tools. A primary care physician could invest in a few of CSI’s top-of-the-line models and effectively expand the practice by placing the kiosks in corner pharmacies and retail health clinics.
That is exactly where I think primary care is headed. It will eventually be taken out of the doctor’s office and placed in retail clinics where appointments are not necessary and crowded waiting rooms are a thing of the past. I hope this is the case because I am tired of paying for those very expensive 15 minutes year after year.