Emergency department visits are costly, often require a lot of waiting, and are frequently used for non-emergent conditions. According to a 2013 study, the median cost of an emergency department visit for common outpatient conditions is $1,233, many of which are non-emergent. The national average time it takes to enter an emergency department, obtain treatment, and be sent home is just over 2 hours. In today’s modern world, there’s no need to spend that much money or time to be treated for non-emergent conditions. In fact, a study published in Health Affairs estimates that 13.7-27.1 percent of emergency department visits could be completed at an urgent care or retail clinic.
Treatment in urgent care centers and primary care clinics may be less costly than in emergency departments, but neither are always open or nearby, and primary care appointments are often difficult to set. Telemedicine services provide an alternative method for evaluation and treatment of these lower acuity ailments (fever, cold/flu symptoms, sore throat, cough, bronchitis symptoms, vomiting, urinary tract infections, etc.) for significantly less than the cost of an emergency department or urgent care visit. Even better than that it can be done without leaving the comfort of your home, with the added benefit of many service providers being available 24/7, 365 days per year. The cost to the patient is typically around $50 for a video exam with a medical provider who is able to evaluate and treat many of these non-emergent illnesses within 30 minutes – virtually. Never mind sitting in an emergency department waiting amongst other sick people, there’s a medical professional just a click away.