In a country where health insurance is neither free nor readily affordable for everyone, the hospital becomes the go-to for urgent medical treatment. Although it was designed to treat only emergency medical situations, those who lack insurance or other medical resources turn to the ER for treatment for everyday ailments and health problems.

Unfortunately, this is an extremely costly and disadvantageous way to go about healthcare. Not only does a trip to the ER cost anywhere between $5,000 to $20,000, but the influx of patients with non-life-threatening injuries slow down the entire facility. Operations are delayed and waiting room times become almost unbearable as patients are forced behind massive queues that consist of both the mildly ill and grievously injured.

Thankfully, there is a new form of medical care that takes advantage of technology and strives to eliminate not only the high costs for patients but also eliminate the hefty wait times draining staff resources and reducing care quality.

Telemedicine and the Future

Rather than going to the ER whenever one faces a medical problem, tele-medicine stations could serve as access points for people in need of a physician’s consultation. Studies show that 71 percent of emergency room patients do not need emergency care, but where else are they supposed to go if they feel they are faced with an urgent medical problem?

For the uninsured, the hospital seems like the only viable way to receive medical treatment, even when care comes at an astronomical expense. Tele-medecine companies like Florida-based OnMed are making it possible for doctors to advise patients virtually, directly from their own homes and offices.

Tele-medicine doesn’t stop at video, however. Thermal sensors are used to take a patient’s temperature and help detect and diagnose infection. Tele-medicine stations are also stocked with many common prescription medications, allowing doctors to prescribe and administer pharmaceutical drugs right on the spot.

OnMed is slated to become a common entity in many public facilities including hospitals, airports, hotels and even the headquarters of large corporations. With greater, streamlined access to quality healthcare, Americans may be able to stop falling into the harmful pattern of emergency room bills and medical debt, allowing doctors to focus solely on critical care cases in the ER.