A telemedicine doctor can provide great assistance and information to patients without demanding that you leave the comfort of your own home for an in person visit. An online doctor appointment can include phone or video chat, during which the doctor can answer questions, write prescriptions to the local pharmacy, order lab work, and discuss your personalized care plan.
In Person Doctor Visits
Under certain conditions, an in person doctor’s office may be exactly what you need.
- In Person urgent care may be needed for emergency medical concerns.
- New patients should expect to see a doctor to establish a baseline of health.
But for many health situations there is no need to spend hours driving, sitting in a waiting room, and being at the mercy of the doctors’ office schedule. Common conditions such as allergies and other non emergency conditions can be diagnosed and treated at the direction of an online doctor, without having to leave your home. Even if the doctor has to order lab work for you, you will still spend less time travelling and waiting, since you will only have to go to the lab instead of to the doctor’s office and then the lab. The time benefits are substantial, especially if you have conditions that require close supervision.
There are many benefits to seeking an online medical care provider for your health needs.
- Some conditions, like depression, hair loss or erectile dysfunction, are difficult to talk about in person. A video visit may be less embarrassing.
- Those who live in rural areas may have a hard time driving many miles for an in person appointment when it would be much easier to just sit down with a phone or video chat and receive virtual care.
- Parents may have a hard time finding child care while they attend in person appointments; this is not a problem with online appointments.
- Senior citizens especially see benefits from virtual appointments because in person visits risk exposure to flu in the waiting room.
- Common conditions often have straightforward treatment and may not need to be seen in person at all. Pink eye and a sore throat can be discussed in a virtual care setting, and appropriate prescriptions can be called to the local pharmacy.
- If you have a known medical condition that your doctor wants to monitor, you may end up having to see them several times a month. With online doctor appointments you will be able to get regular care with a fraction of the travel and waiting that would otherwise be required.
- Your telemedicine doctor may ask you to get equipment to help them get a full picture of your health, such as a cuff to monitor high blood pressure or diabetic testing equipment. This is a great way to be able to take charge of your own health, while still having the benefits of being under the supervision of a physician through virtual care.
Finding Health Care Providers
Today it is easy to find an online primary care provider with board certified doctors and therapists who are qualified to treat many conditions via online doctor visits.
- Look for an online provider with quality doctors who are board certified.
- Depending on your needs you can find therapists and other mental health care providers, urgent care providers, and other medical services.
- You can even get telehealth appointments with medical experts with whom you would be unable to get an in person appointment due to location. This makes it easy and convenient to ensure quality care.
- A good telehealth provider will have a customer service number to make it easy to troubleshoot your virtual visits.
- Many health insurance companies will now pay for online doctor visits, making them affordable as well as convenient. Talk to your health insurance company to make sure your chosen provider cooperates in network with your health insurance provider.
- If your insurance provider does not cover telehealth or you do not have health insurance, your provider will have a very affordable rate per appointment to ensure that you can still access quality care.
How to Set Up Your Telehealth Account
Once you have found an online doctor who is capable of meeting your health care needs, you will need to join their list of patients.
- Your online doctor will have a phone number so you can find out how to become a patient.
- Customer service will help you set up an account, with a user name and password.
- Establishing care, as with many practices, should involve new patients answering questions about medical history, family history and current conditions and medications. The questionnaire might ask if you have had high blood pressure, whether you smoke or use drugs, and if you’ve had your flu shot. Answering these questions accurately will help your doctor to provide you with the best service.
- Once your account is created you will be able to set up your first virtual visit.
What to Expect as a Telehealth Patient
This model of health care may seem unfamiliar to someone accustomed to in person doctor’s office visits, but you may be surprised by how much of what doctors do can be accomplished online.
- Your first step after creating your account will be to schedule video visits. You may need an introductory visit, followed by more indepth discussion in subsequent visits. You will be given options for appointment times, from which you can choose one that fits your schedule.
- You will be emailed a link to follow when your appointment time arrives so that you can join the virtual visit.
- When the time for your appointment is near, make sure you have a working video camera hooked up to your computer. If you are using your phone or tablet it may be wise to check the camera and make sure it doesn’t need an update at the wrong moment. Resetting your router in advance could save you from a frustrating disconnection at the wrong moment.
- Also find out what platform your doctor will be using for the video chat and download it in advance of your appointment.
- As with an in person appointment, it is helpful to write down your relevant medical history and health needs in advance of your visit so that you can remember everything that you wanted to talk to your doctor about. It may be tempting to keep these notes in your phone, but if you will be video chatting in your phone make sure that you can access the note without interrupting the call. Being prepared with your questions will help the doctor to give you the most personalized care.
- Your visit itself may take as little as ten minutes, as the doctor will take the time to answer questions, consider symptoms, and create a care plan. Then you will be free to do whatever your doctor recommends to address your health concerns.
After Your Appointment
After talking to your doctor online you will have a plan of action for whatever conditions you discussed.
- If medications are necessary your doctor will quickly write prescriptions and send them to your local pharmacy.
- If the doctor feels that more specialized care is needed, he may refer you to other providers, such as a medical expert, mental health professional, physical therapist, or an in-person urgent care. These physicians may or may not have the ability to conduct visits online, but at least it is helpful to be able to get the referral without leaving home.
- Follow up appointments may also be scheduled to see how symptoms change over time and whether medication is effective.
Is Virtual Medicine Right for You?
Some people simply don’t like change. They prefer the way things have been done for years and are suspicious of new services. If you feel this way, virtual visits may not be your best option. If, however, you are open to exploring the new options that changing technology creates, telehealth may be exactly what you need to make your healthcare easier and more efficient.
- If your mental health prevents you from wanting to leave home, seeking virtual care may be exactly the right option to ensure that you can start down the path to better health without overtaxing your tolerance for public places.
- If you have kids at home who don’t enjoy sitting in a waiting room waiting for your appointment, virtual visits will be a whole new level of easy for you. The little ones can watch a video or do a craft while you spend a few minutes on a phone or video visit with your doctor.
- The immunocompromised have extra incentive to stay out of the doctor’s office, as it is where everyone who is sick goes and an easy place to catch the flu or some other pathogen.
- If your transportation is unreliable or you don’t have any at all, it’s still important to have the care of a physician and not let your health suffer. As long as you have an internet connection, you can reach a primary care doctor or a specialist for virtual appointments.
- Busy working all day? You may even be able to fit in a quick online doctor visit during lunch break instead of taking a whole day off for one appointment. The financial and career benefits of this may be substantial.
- Telehealth providers may also have more flexible schedules, allowing late night or weekend visits. Mental health care providers, for example, often try to keep their schedule open in off hours to accommodate their patients needs.
If you have gone a period of time without healthcare, let me encourage you to seek this exciting new option. Health care is crucial to stay ahead of any developing conditions. With the ready availability of online health care services, it is certain that you can find an option that will allow you to fit better medical care into your life.