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More than 90% of telehealth calls replace expensive and time-consuming trips to doctors or ERs

CHICAGO, Oct. 28, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- An analysis conducted by telehealth and advocacy service provider First Stop Health reveals that 93% of all phone consults with doctors helped patients avoid expensive and time-consuming trips to doctors' offices or emergency rooms (ERs).

First Stop Health provides immediate, 24/7/365 phone and online access to more than 370 U.S.-based, board-certified physicians licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The company recently analyzed usage data from its telehealth, sometimes called telemedicine, service. It discovered that 93% of telehealth consultations with First Stop Health doctors helped its members avoid the hassle and expense of traveling to physician offices, urgent care facilities or emergency rooms.

These medically unnecessary office and ER visits would have cost an average of $103 and $1,067, respectively, according to a fee schedule published by physicianspractice.com. Given that the average family of four goes to the doctor about 14 times per year and to the ER 1.7 times per year - and that between 50% and 70% of these visits can be handled via a telehealth consultation - savings can accrue quickly.

Currently, about 5% of employees in the United States have a telemedicine benefit provided by their employers. However, a recent study by Towers Watson found that in 2015, 37% of employers surveyed expect to offer their employees telemedicine consultations as a low-cost alternative to emergency room or physician office visits for nonemergency health issues. And another 34% are considering offering telemedicine in 2016 or 2017.

"When you think about the expenses and time involved in making an appointment, traveling to a doctor's office, waiting to see the doctor and paying a copay or deductible, avoiding all of that is a huge benefit to users of telehealth services. This is truly what consumer-driven health care is about," said Dr. Mark Friedman, First Stop Health's chief medical officer.

Friedman added that telehealth doctors can safely and effectively treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries without seeing patients in person. Topping the list of issues about which First Stop Health members call - and for which they receive treatment - are infections, allergies, flu, injuries, rashes, stomach problems and many others.

The company provides telehealth services for individuals and employers. First Stop Health charges a low monthly fee, provides unlimited usage and includes members' families. First Stop Health does not charge a per-consultation fee.

About First Stop Health

Chicago-based First Stop Health (www.fshealth.com) is a quick, convenient and affordable telehealth and advocacy service available to employers and to consumers. It offers immediate, 24/7/365 phone and online access to more than 370 U.S.-based and licensed, board-certified physicians who provide medical care, advice, diagnosis and - when necessary - prescriptions to its members. Members also have access to expert patient advocates to assist them with navigating serious illnesses and reducing medical bills. In addition, First Stop Health helps employers manage and reduce major medical claims. Connect with First Stop Health on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter: (@firststophealth).

CONTACT: Jani Spede 866-923-9980 jspede@fshealth.com

Source:First Stop Health