Coworkers save time, money with 'Teledoc'

Ginna Fontaine
Michelle Paine
Lindsay Thompson

Correction! The original version of this report listed mental health as one of the potential uses for Teledoc. Mental health is not available through Teledoc to Grant PUD employees. Sorry for the error. 

It's 10 p.m. Saturday and your 3-year-old daughter is crying because her ear hurts. The nearest emergency room or walk-in clinic is a 20-minute drive.

Would you consider trying "Teladoc," a 24-7 express-medical-consultation service covered by our Grant PUD Premera health insurance?

Coworkers Ginna Fontaine, Lindsay Thompson and Michelle Paine all have with generally good results.

"It really set my mind at ease, because I was ready to take him to urgent care," Communications Specialist Lindsay said of her recent Teladoc experience. She consulted the service about a troubling rash on her 2-year-old son on a weekend evening when his pediatrician wasn't available by phone.

"After getting evaluated through Teladoc I knew it wasn't a huge deal. It saved me a trip to the walk-in clinic and was cheaper for both me and insurance," she said.

Teladoc works by phone, website or smart phone app. Lindsay had learned of Teladoc at the Grant PUD Benefits Fair last year and through a mailing that arrived at her home. She'd already created a Teladoc account.

She contacted the service through its website and followed the instructions, uploading a description of the problem and photos of her itchy son. A dermatologist contacted her by email.

"The website said it could take up to two days to get a reply, but it was only about an hour. You are allowed to reply back with more questions, and it still would be considered the same 'appointment,' she said. "Within the message there's a button to see the provider's profile and qualifications. The dermatologist that messaged me went to Harvard Medical School! Fancy! It also shows if they're available via phone or video (she was not but I didn't want to video chat anyway). She even sent in a prescription to the local pharmacy of my choice for a hydrocortisone cream for him."

The Teladoc appointment cost $75, but Lindsay's out-of-pocket copay was $10.

Financial Analyst Ginna used it a few months ago when her son had a sore throat on a Sunday. She got a response from Teladoc in about 30 minutes and decided to do nothing that night, but ended up taking him in the next day for a strep throat test. The Teladoc "appointment" cost about $45. Her out-of-pocket was $10.

"It was so convenient, because we could not go to our regular doctor in Ephrata and did not want to drive to Moses Lake and wait for hours at the walk-in," Ginna said.

Michelle, an Internal Services admin, hit a snag when she first tried the service, because the Teladoc network wasn't working. She had repeated problems logging in. Teladoc couldn't verify coverage when she called. She spent unsuccessful hours on the phone. She sent an email to Grant PUD HR about the issue. When she tried again a couple days later, she created an account with no problem.

"Once I was actually able to log in it was pretty slick," she said. "I uploaded some pics and described the issue and the doctor was able to review the info I provided and write a prescription within a few hours. It's convenient, for sure, when it works."

Teladoc appointments vary in cost, depending on the type of doctor involved. Services covered include dermatology, prescriptions and everyday care. You can also use it to get a short-term prescription, for example, if you run out of meds while traveling.

One tip from the three coworkers — be sure to set up your account before you actually need the service.

For more information, visit www.teladoc.com. Or download the Teladoc app, which is available for both iPhone and Android.

— Christine Pratt, Public Affairs