Over the last few years, telehealth (also know as telemedicine) has become a safe, efficient and comfortable way to see a medical professional. With the advent of Covid-19, doctor’s offices widely started offering options for “virtual” visits. This not only kept the doctors and nurses safe, but the patients as well.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth or telemedicine services are those in which a patient can speak with or “see” a doctor or healthcare professional virtually. This means there is no in-office visit needed as the visit takes place over the internet.

There are a few different options available under the telehealth/telemedicine umbrella:

  • Secure texting, messaging or file sharing with a healthcare professional.
  • A live visit with your healthcare professional, either over the telephone or on video chat.
  • Remote monitoring that allows your doctor to monitor your health condition from their office, using a device or internet application.

Telehealth Q & A

Is telehealth a “fad”?

All the data tells us that virtual medical consultations are here to stay. Although many of us didn’t become aware of them until the last few years, the concept is far from new. According to evisit, “In the 1960’s and 70’s, the Public Health Department, NASA, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department all invested time and money for research in telemedicine.”.

HGA.com indicates most recently, “The use of tele-visits/virtual visits showed the most growth, doubling from 14% in 2016 to 28% in 2019, followed by remote monitoring for improved care (e.g., apps and devices to monitor patients with chronic diseases), which increased from 13% in 2016 to 22% in 2019. Increased efficiency and patient safety were identified most frequently as the key drivers of adoption.”

Do I have to have internet for a telehealth visit?

An internet connection is required for video chats, but these can be performed over most smart-phones that have their own internet plans.

On occasion, doctors will be able to provide a tele-visit via a regular telephone call (even on a landline). Of course, if they need to “see” you, (as in the case of a skin condition), then this would not be able to be done solely over the telephone.

What kinds of visits can I schedule virtually?

  • Follow-up appointments
  • Therapist or psychology appointments
  • Getting bloodwork and imaging tests ordered and/or receiving results
  • Chronic condition management
  • Diabetes management follow ups
  • Migraines
  • Pre and postnatal care
  • Obesity management
  • Respiratory conditions
  • Some high blood pressure and heart condition management
  • And many more

If it’s urgent situation, should I use telehealth?

If you need to see a doctor urgently, the best thing to do is go to your local emergency room at the hospital or a local urgent care clinic.

Do all doctors offer telehealth services?

While prior to 2019, virtual visits were not quite as common as they are now, the numbers of healthcare professionals that now offer this service is at an all time high. Call you doctor or healthcare provider’s office to ask if they offer telehealth visits.

What are some limitations of telehealth?

  • As mentioned, you may need a stable internet connection for video visits
  • Not all medical conditions can be addressed via a telehealth visit
  • Some internet awareness usage to be able access the technology needed as a patient

What are some of the benefits of a virtual-visit?

  • Keeps patients safe from exposure to other ill patients
  • Helps prevent the overall spread of illness
  • Rural patients are not limited to the medical care in their geographic region
  • Saves the patient time and money by reducing travel costs
  • Opens up the availability for patients who have mobility issues
  • Eliminates the need for childcare or eldercare while away at appointment

What is the cost for using this kind of service?

Telehealth visits do have a cost for most healthcare practitioners. The cost is often what you would pay for a regular, in-office visit, with similar co-pays and billing. If you are unsure if your insurance will cover a telehealth visit, give their customer service department a quick call to inquire.

Wrap Up

Telehealth virtual visits are highly convenient and work well for many types of healthcare appointments. Of course, speak with your doctor about your general health and upcoming appointments as well as possible telehealth services they offer.

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