Doc-on-demand telehealth gives rural patients easier access to care

Doc-on-demand online physician services continue to grow apace, and not just with individual patients. Patient Advocates, a company that helps patients navigate the healthcare system in the state of Maine, just added doc-on-demand telehealth to its roster of services.

Partnering with online physician service company American Well, Patient Advocates plans to offer Maine residents the option of connecting with Boston-area physicians for phone and video consults, according to the Sun Journal.

Patients will have access to specialists in oncology, endocrinology, dermatology, urology and neurosurgery, although they will have to conduct the visits at Patient Advocates' offices in Gray, Maine. Physicians can decline to see a patient via telehealth if he or she thinks the patient would be better served by an in-person visit, the Sun Journal reports.

The telehealth connection may be crucial for Maine patients, given that its rural counties have 75 percent fewer physicians per capita than their peers elsewhere in the U.S., according to recent data from the Maine Department of Labor.

Private insurers also will have to pay for the telemedicine visits. In January 2010, Maine legislators passed a law requiring all insurers to reimburse telemedicine visits in the same way they do in-person visits.

To learn more:
- read the Sun Journal article
- check out Patient Advocate's press release