A recent conversation with a good friend about healthcare got me to thinking about how much time is lost by working Moms, caregivers and busy families with simple visits to the doctor’s office. The conversation that sparked this research involved a good friend of mine who was lamenting her third trip to the doctor’s office that week for a sinus/ear infection that was circulating through her very large family.
“I am going to have to take off yet another whole afternoon of work just to take my daughter in so that they can give her the same antibiotic ear drops they gave to the other three. The same thing happened last month when they all got pink eye…. I miss my old pediatrician. She used to just automatically call in prescriptions for all of the kids for certain things. This new one requires I bring each child in.”
After that conversation, I began to think there had to be a better way to handle simple healthcare requests than taking 2-3 hours out of a busy day to drive to school, pick up the child, head to the doctor’s office, sitting in the waiting room, being seen by the doctor, checking out and heading home, or back to work and school.
As it turns out, an emerging market known as telehealth is primed to answer that very need. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Telehealth is simply using digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to manage your health and well-being.” Telehealth practitioners rely heavily on video based appointments, a technology that more and more Americans are becoming familiar with thanks to applications like Skype and Facetime. Video based appointments are still a relatively new phenomenon, but as more consumers are seeing the benefits of using these emerging companies and are embracing the benefits that technology, insurance companies are increasingly embracing them as well. In 2013 US News published a report on the convenience of this new technology, “Telehealth: The Ultimate in Convenience Care.”
Like any new technology, the regulation and laws are working hard to keep up, but thus far the telehealth industry has proven that the convenience and benefits are significant, the cost savings to the health industry substantial and the tendency for fraud and misrepresentation to be no higher than in traditional health care settings.
One new company joining the existing ranks of telehealth is Maven. The company focuses primarily on women’s health, specifically prenatal, post-partum, lactation consulting, pediatric needs and nutrition and mental health needs.
I had the pleasure of giving Maven a try, courtesy of the incredibly kind and engaging owners and managing staff. I found the application to be easy to use. First I downloaded the application with a simple click. After navigating through the customer friendly website I found it very simple to find a Nutritionist that I thought sounded like a good fit. I made the appointment filled out the pre-appointment forms in less than 5 minutes. The process of connecting was also very user friendly (and this is coming from someone who is somewhat of a technophobe). All I had to do was to click launch appointment and allow the program access to my camera and microphone.
The practitioner I spoke with was extremely professional, kind and knowledgeable. We discussed some issues I have been having with finding the right diet to help with some current health problems. She listened and then provided me some good suggestions I could implement immediately, as well as options for on-going monitoring and support.
The only frustration that I experienced during my appointment time was the stilted video feed and the fact that we lost connectivity twice. The first time I panicked when my I-pad dropped the signal, but I quickly realized that reconnecting was as easy as retouching the “launch appointment” button again.
As a user, I was extremely impressed with the openness of the practitioner to provide email and telephone information, as well as a plan for ongoing monitoring if I was interested. At no point did I feel like I was just a “patient,” but instead I really felt like a person.
I admit, I was somewhat skeptical about the benefits of telehealth, but after experiencing it for myself, I feel that these telehealth options could very well be the answer for families already strapped for time and money. The application is affordable, relationship based, user-friendly and extremely convenient from a time perspective.
The Two-Penny Soapbox is not typically a site that provides reviews, or advertisements, but in this case I feel that the benefit to my readers outweighs my objections to product endorsement. I will definitely be using Maven again in the future. While telehealth is never going to fully replace in-person healthcare, when it comes to everyday health questions, using telehealth services just makes sense.
So, as a conclusion, let me run-down of the benefits and drawbacks of Maven’s application.Drawbacks
- Exclusively on Apple/ Android devices not yet supported
- Connectivity issues
Yep, I only found two drawbacks. The benefits, on the other hand are significantly higher in number;
- The application is simple to download, simple to use
- Compiling your health history is automatic and easy to access
- Providers make themselves very available
- Extended communication and post-appointment notes create a relationship based health care
- Appointments are affordable
- While not currently supported on Maven, telehealth options are increasingly being accepted and utilized by insurance companies
- Even when connectivity is lost, reconnecting is as simple as clicking a button
- A free forum where providers answer questions is available in addition to video appointments
- The time savings are immeasurable
So, as a gift to all my readers, Maven has provided me with an access code that allows you to try out the Maven application. Just use your special reader code TWOPENNYSOAPBOX for $25 (one free appointment). I promise you won’t be disappointed. And while this doesn’t let businesses off the hook in regards to the need for more family-friendly policies, the telehealth industry provides a much needed time-saving solution for busy families while we are waiting.
Note: Maven in no way paid for this endorsement. The only benefit I received was the same free appointment that I am extending to all my delightfully loyal readers.