20 years ago, if you got an earache or struggled with migraines, your only option was to drag yourself to the doctor’s office.
Due to the pandemic in 2020, many healthcare providers began offering virtual doctor’s visits to high risk individuals. The new telehealth offering made healthcare more accessible for the elderly and anyone with autoimmune conditions who couldn’t risk contracting COVID-19. A blessing in disguise, we quickly realized the endless benefits of telemedicine that still apply long after the end of mask mandates.
Now, many insurance providers include telehealth options to patients, making it easier than ever to get the care you need.
Easier access to care for older adults or those with limited mobility
Going to the doctor can be stressful for most people. For seniors and anyone with mobility challenges, making it to a doctor’s appointment in person can be even more of a headache than it needs to be. Telehealth options allow people to take care of basic health needs from the comfort of their home. No worries about arranging transportation or fighting traffic.
Going to the doctor is also tougher if you live miles away from the closest health care provider. Instead of having to take time off work just to get a minor illness checked out, you can chat with a care provider and potentially get a diagnosis and prescription without even putting on pants.
Why go all the way to the doctor when some conditions are so common, easy to diagnose and treat from afar?
For those helping to care for adult family members, telehealth is huge. Now, they can meet with their loved ones’ care providers virtually, allowing them to provide better care even when they can’t attend every doctor’s visit in person.
With traditional doctor visits, it can take weeks before a health care provider has an opening. Even when they do, they’re often running behind. Patients are stuck waiting for an hour or more past their scheduled appointment time just to check on an annoying cough or renew a prescription. Telehealth visits can often be booked the same day. If a physician is running late, you can always catch up on your Netflix watchlist while you wait.
For all of us trying to live greener, telehealth takes the gas usage out of medical appointments. It’s a small difference, but every little step counts!
Anyone who needs help with emotional wellness can benefit from a less stressful healthcare experience. Telehealth lets people talk with a licensed therapist and get screened for mental health conditions without the inconvinience of having to drive to an intimidating office.
There are several ways to access telehealth services, but most follow a similar format. Appointments are scheduled using an online portal. The portal also allows patients to review test results, ask for prescription refills, or send a confidential message directly to their care provider. At the time of their scheduled appointment, they visit with their doctor or nurse over the phone or via video chat. From there, care providers may diagnose and treat patients, or recommend that they come into the office for a more in-depth assessment.
Telehealth includes many common services including the following:
Telehealth isn’t a replacement for routine preventative care visits, vaccinations, and any diagnoses that require a hands-on approach. Blood work and imaging has to be done in person too. That said, many of the most common health care services are offered virtually, and many insurance companies are on board.
We recommend that you carefully review the specific benefits and coverage details of your individual health plan to understand the telehealth services available to you. Please be aware that the availability and extent of telehealth services may vary depending on your plan type and the carrier or insurer that provides your coverage.
Firstly, before you sign up for an insurance plan, check to see what telehealth services are covered. You can also call your existing insurance provider to find out what your options are. Fortunately, most providers cover telehealth visits now.
To prepare for the visit, document vital information like your weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar if you’re diabetic. Keep track of your symptoms so that you can share the most accurate information at the time of your appointment. If there’s a specific injury or condition you’d like them to see, consider taking close-up photos of the area in advance.
If your virtual care provider will be different from your usual one, request medical records from your old provider in advance. That way, you won’t have to waste any time explaining your medical history during your virtual visit. It’s also helpful to come up with a list of questions in advance.
Not sure where to start with telehealth visits?