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Imagine coming down with the flu and being able to webcam with your doctor, even when you’re at work or on the go. It’s possible with telemedicine. And with Ria Health, the same thing is possible for people who want to regain control over their drinking. Why go to a doctor’s office or to a 12-step meeting when you can get online alcohol treatment? With telemedicine, physicians can meet with, diagnose, and treat patients remotely. It’s a new innovation, seeking to make health care accessible, flexible, and convenient.
Instead of forcing people to go cold-turkey on drugs and alcohol—which can be dangerous and ultimately ineffective—we offer our members telehealth conferences, medication proven to wean them off alcohol, peer group meetings, and one-on-one coaching sessions. Ria’s program shifts the emphasis in recovery from the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) model of penance and abstinence toward a more realistic goal: incremental improvement.
Overdrinking can happen to anyone. The first step in battling alcoholism is to realize that everyone needs high-caliber healthcare, even—and especially—people who suffer from addiction. Here are some reasons why telemedicine is the right choice to reduce your drinking.
It Saves Time and Money
A 2015 study by Harvard University researchers found that out of the 121 minutes people typically take to see a doctor for an appointment—including traveling to the doctor’s office, waiting to see the doctor, and actually having the appointment—only 20 minutes are spent face-to-face with a physician. What’s more, the researchers pinned the average opportunity cost of a doctor’s appointment at $43. That’s the money people lost by traveling to the doctor instead of working. So after a typical doctor’s visit, you’ve spent much more than a co-pay. You’ve wasted nearly two hours and 40 extra bucks—plus the cost of transportation.
Rehab facilities compound the costs. Most facilities cost thousands of dollars per month and require you to spend a month or more away from your job and your family.
With online alcohol treatment services like Ria, however, you have all of your appointments and check-ins through your smartphone. Ria members consult with our medical team and certified recovery coaches through our secure, HIPAA-compliant app. You can have an appointment while you’re at home, at work, or anyplace with internet access. You don’t need to carve out time to get to a doctor’s office, and you don’t need to leave your life completely like you would for a rehab facility. We work with your schedule.
It’s Just as Effective as Regular Doctor’s Visits—If Not More So
“Saving time and money is great,” you may be thinking. “But I’m willing to pay more if that means I’ll get better quality care.”
But with telemedicine, it doesn’t have to be a choice between money-saving and quality care. There are certain kinds of care that require in-person interaction—like if you broke your leg and need a cast, or have a nasty cut that requires stitches. But alcohol treatment can be still be extremely effective when done remotely.
In fact, one 2016 study found that, on top of costing less, telehealth was much more effective in alcohol and drug treatment compared to standard continuing care. The study tracked 359 participants over two years. Of those who received standard care, about 47 percent remained abstinent. Compare that to 57 percent of those who used telehealth services. Statistically, that is a very significant difference.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and rehab facilities don’t systematically track their success rates with hard data, so there’s no way of knowing for sure just how successful they are. But Ria does. On average, our members reduce their drinking by more than 70 percent in the first six months.