At the end of a recent telemedicine session, Jill, a long term patient thanked me for saving her money. I was puzzled and reminded her that my fees had not changed. She explained that because we were meeting remotely, she did not need to secure a babysitter for the appointment. She went on to say that the time to drive to and from our sessions, as well as the session time itself, would often lead to a three hour minimum for the sitter. This had never occurred to me.
Since then, similar scenes have played out frequently. I think of John, a farmer who would travel more than 2 hours each way, and carve out half a day for our appointments in the past. We recently had a meeting where he was using his tablet and speaking to me while sitting on a tractor in the middle of a field.
I have dozens of working professionals as patients who simply close their office door, or find a quiet room for our meeting. They need not get permission to leave work, trek across town, and feel stressed by their time away form the office.
I’ve spoken to college students in their far off dorm rooms, therapy clients away on family vacations. My favorite is Lilian, who remains grateful that I can see her in her home, where she need not leave Michael, her husband of 62 years, who struggles with dementia.
Much of the feedback I have received since beginning a telemedicine practice has focused on how the process is convenient, or easy. I recognize that the potential for saving time and money may be a small issue for many, but for some it goes a long way.