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$49 for 10-Minute Telemedicine Sessions by Smartphone?

Telemedicine Sessions

American Well unveiled a new service that connects consumers directly to physicians through their mobile devices for advice — and sometimes even for diagnoses and prescriptions.

What do consumers pay?  $49.

Those of you who believed our three part series:  PREDICTION: Will We Be Treating Mental Health Patients by Smartphone before 2020 Part IPart II and Part III probably saw this coming, but didn’t think it would happen so soon. It happened yesterday, October 9, 2013.

Nonetheless, reading of this announcement does give one pause — even me. A full “session” in the America Well plan  lasts 10 minutes. While the announcement linked above only describes general health service and not mental health, you may recall our article of June 28, 2012, Private: Value Options Partners with American Well to Form the First Behavioral Telehealth Network. Mental health is not far behind physical health.

But 10 minutes?

For those of us who’ve been trained in traditional mental health, the thought of a 10-minute session can be downright frightening. Yet, an increasing amount of research is showing that brief, focused interventions can be quite effective, even when delivered via technology. In 2011, we reported that session lengths were going to be reimbursable in segments of 3-9 minutes, or 10+ minutes for smoking cessation (see Medicare and Medicaid Proposed Rule to Cover Smoking Cessation).

This groundbreaking news is just the start of what we can expect with mobile healthcare. The free American Well app is available at the Apple App Store and Google Play store. The new service can also be found online at www.americanwell.com.

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