When you need medical care or advice, getting it quickly is important. Enter telemedicine!

All Virginians have more expansive access than ever due to legislation approved last year and signed by the Governor that allows you to use telemedicine services for health care.

So what are telemedicine services?

Telemedicine is the use of interactive audio, video, or other electronic media to provide diagnosis, consultation, or treatment.

While in the very early stages of development, telemedicine services offer:

  • Increased access to doctors, especially in medically
    underserved/rural areas
  • Improved quality and continuity of care
  • Convenience
  • Reduction of time lost from work or travel costs.

It’s also important to understand what telemedicine is not. Telemedicine services do not include: audio-only phone calls, home video conference sessions initiated through technology such as Skype, electronic mail messages (e-mail) or fax transmissions. These continue to be noncovered services.

Here’s an example of how telemedicine would work if you live in a rural area where specialists may be far away:

John visits his physician for an illness or condition. The physician thinks he needs to be seen by a specialist.  Before, John would have to travel to see the specialist.  Now, if his physician’s office is outfitted for telemedicine, the doctor could make arrangements with the specialist for John to receive the diagnosis or treatment directly from the physician’s office! That’s possible thanks to interactive technology.

In some cases, the telemedicine facility may be available at another location nearby, such as a hospital or outpatient facility.

Equipment used for telemedicine must have a high enough level of audio quality and visual clarity to replicate a patient’s experience in a faceto-face office visit with a health care provider.

As a state health plan member, you will pay the same for these services as if you had seen the specialist in person. Your actual cost will be based on your specific plan’s benefits. Before using telemedicine services, be sure that all providers participate with your plan. Your doctor will determine when telemedicine services are appropriate for you, and will help you find a location where you may receive those services remotely.