Tips for Smoother Telehealth Appointments
In this digital age, there are many different ways to take advantage of the internet to do the tasks that once required many errands and lots of stops. From online grocery ordering and delivery to even earning a graduate degree from the comfort of home, online options are ample when it comes to doing the things people need to do to live a long and happy life. But what about healthcare? Telehealth has completely changed the way we as a society look at healthcare, but how does a virtual doctor appointment work? Can it be as thorough and as accurate as in person doctor appointments? There are many ways that telehealth visits can help you get back to feeling like yourself again without having to leave your couch.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth, often referred to as telemedicine, lets your health care provider provide care for you without an in-person office visit. Telehealth is done primarily online with internet access on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Not all healthcare providers can provide telehealth options so it is important to talk to your doctor about the telemedicine methods they use and offer.
There are many ways that telehealth can be provided and used to tend to your healthcare needs:
- You can talk to your healthcare provider live via a phone call or video conference. This works best when you can schedule an appointment with your doctor.
- Text messaging and instant messaging sorts of services can also be provided if you have a quick question and need answers fast.
- There are even options for remote monitoring like checking vital signs and monitoring health issues from blood pressure and heart rate to oxygen levels and respirations.
What is a telehealth visit?
A telehealth visit is a method of telemedicine that allows you to work with a medical or healthcare provider to receive service. These visits might include a phone call or video conference, or they can utilize a text messaging option to communicate with a doctor.
Can I go to my own doctor for telehealth medicine?
Today, many primary care doctors and even specialists in specific medical areas offer telehealth visits. Depending on their schedule, their ability to serve you from their office, and the extent of care necessary to give your treatment, your doctor might be able to work with you for a telehealth visit. When in doubt, research online or call your doctor’s office to see what options you might have for telemedicine with your current doctor.
How does a virtual doctor appointment work with my own doctor?
It honestly depends on how your doctor wants to conduct the visit. They might want to give you a phone call and ask you questions regarding your current health situations. They might also prefer or require a video chat, via Zoom, Skype, or some other video conference hosting platform, where they can see you somewhat face to face.
Can I have telehealth counseling?
Telehealth is a great way to receive mental health services, talk therapy and counseling options. In fact, there are many phone applications now that utilize text therapy, phone chats, and video conferencing all from a mobile device like a cell phone or tablet. Patients can talk to licensed therapists, attend mental health workshops, and even receive antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication via telehealth mental healthcare services.
What are telehealth companies?
There are some companies that primarily focus solely on telehealth and telemedicine options. These are great options for people who might not have a primary doctor but need an antibiotic for something or some other non-life-threatening issue. These companies provide licensed and board-certified doctors from across the country to help provide quick and safe telemedicine options for people who need service same-day.
How does a virtual doctor appointment work?
A virtual doctor appointment works in the same way that an in-person doctor visit works. You simply communicate with your doctor from the privacy of your home outside of the doctor office instead of meeting in the doctor office. It might sound weird, but these types of appointments can be incredibly beneficial and convenient for both you and your healthcare provider.
While telehealth options and virtual doctor appointments are a great alternative to in-person healthcare, there are situations where telemedicine services are not going to be of use. Emergency issues like signs of a heart attack or stroke are going to require immediate emergency care. You should still go to the emergency room if you are facing a life-threatening issue like this you need to go directly to the hospital. Other issues that require hands-on medical treatment like a cut that would require stitches or even an injury that would require imaging like an x-ray or MRI would still need to be addressed in person. If you have an injury like this, telehealth could be utilized after an in-person visit, but an in-person visit is still required.
What insurance plans support and cover telehealth visits?
Many insurance providers cover telehealth visits. From employer offered services to government healthcare options, an insurance agency can answer your questions about telehealth coverage for telemedicine and other services. Reach out to your insurance agent to inquire about your specific healthcare needs and if telemedicine is covered under your current insurance policy. They can answer questions about insurance coverage and see how your insurance coverage might need to change in order to meet your healthcare needs.
Do I need supplemental insurance for telehealth visits?
Today, most insurance companies cover telehealth and telemedicine visits in the same way that they would cover a regular, in-person doctor appointment. However, there are ways to supplement healthcare coverage if your primary coverage does not cover telehealth visits and telemedicine services. Talk to your medical insurance provider if your insurance does not mention telehealth coverage, or for additional questions regarding telehealth visits.
What are the benefits of telehealth?
There are many benefits of telehealth. From being able to talk to a doctor without the need of leaving the house to convenient and discrete medical care, telehealth options are a great option for many people. Here are five benefits of telehealth visits:
- You can utilize telehealth from anywhere. Feeling so sick that you cannot get out of bed? A doctor might be able to have a telehealth visit with you so that they can best diagnose your current symptoms and get you feeling better fast. This is also great for people who need to talk to a doctor but are out of town. Telehealth options allow people to get care and service from wherever they might be.
- You do not need to commute to get care with telehealth options. Need to schedule a therapy session for your mental health but cannot get time away from work? Shut your office door on your lunch break or sit in your car and have a chat with a therapist from your mobile device. This is great for people who cannot commute across town with their schedule.
- You do not have to sit in a waiting room with a telehealth care visit. The times of sitting in a doctor’s office with other sick people are over with the use of telehealth. While there might be an online queue to get into a telehealth call, waiting for a telehealth visit is private and painless from the privacy of your own home.
- Telehealth can help with many different types of healthcare needs. Think you might have an infection or issue like strep throat or a urinary tract infection? A telehealth visit with a doctor or other medical professional can help diagnose you from your own home. Telehealth is also a great option for people who need other types of medical services like oral health, a chiropractor appointment, time with a pain specialist, and even mental healthcare visits for therapy.
- Telehealth care providers can prescribe medicine and order additional services without an in-person doctor visit. From prescribing an antibiotic for strep throat to even ordering birth control or antidepressants, telehealth care options can provide the relief and medicine you need to feel better. They might suggest follow-up labs or visits in order to check the progress of these medicines, but they can typically prescribe something without you ever having to leave your house or your couch. This does not work in all situations since some medications must be prescribed after the result of a lab test, but many medicines can be administered simply after a telehealth visit.
5 tips for a smooth telehealth visit
There are several different ways that you can help your healthcare provider by preparing as best as possible for your telehealth visit. From writing down your questions in advance to troubleshooting your device ahead of time to ensure a smooth telehealth call, you can be proactive in making sure that your telehealth visit is productive. Here are five tips for a smooth telehealth visit:
- First, write down everything you need to reference in your call so you do not forget it when meeting with your provider. Like you would in a normal doctor appointment, it is important to bring any information or questions that you have to your appointment to give your telehealth practitioner all the information they might need to properly diagnose you. This could include a list of all of your current medications, your current symptoms and when they started occurring, and any information your doctor asked you to provide before arriving on the call. You also might want to have a pen and paper nearby during your call in case any additional questions arise and if your doctor wants you to do anything else after the call.
- If you need additional assistance during your call, like a translator or screen reader, make sure to reach out prior to the call to see what is available. Many telehealth companies understand that their patients have differing needs and abilities and want to make sure that telehealth can be an option for all. Reach out if you have any limitations that might make your call more difficult and they can try to accommodate your needs.
- As always, be honest and thorough on your intake forms. This can be especially important in telehealth calls since your healthcare provider will not see you face to face in this visit. Make sure to let them know what has changed recently, what your current habits are that could affect your health, and any other information that might be necessary in this visit.
- Troubleshoot your computer. If you are using a video chat platform or software for your call, be sure to download it and follow their instructions before the call. You do not want to do this last minute since it could affect the time of your call. Read any instructions your doctor has for you ahead of your call to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
- Reduce background noise and distractions during your call. From a crying baby to a barking dog, noises can create quite the nuisance during a telehealth visit. Be sure to prevent these in whatever way you can to ensure that your doctor can hear you and make the most of your visit.
Telehealth care visits can be a great way to get the medical care that you need to live a long and happy life. Be sure to reach out to your doctor to see what options they have for your specific medical needs. Also, talk to your healthcare insurance provider to see if you are covered for telehealth visits before you schedule one for yourself. Follow the tips above to ensure a quality visit. When in doubt, ask your doctor if your specific need can be addressed with a telehealth option. From birth control to a toothache, there are many different needs and ailments that can be covered with telehealth. As always, if you have a life-threatening medical emergency, call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room immediately.