Virtual doctor visits are becoming more prevalent. To accommodate virtual visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and state agencies, as well as many private health insurers have eased restrictions to facilitate telemedicine services.
However, as with any medical appointment, it’s wise to prepare for your telemedicine visit in advance. To ensure an efficient session, ensure your WiFi connection works optimally before beginning.
Choosing a Doctor
Telemedicine may not replace in-person healthcare services entirely, but it does play an integral part in shaping its future. Telemedicine can provide valuable support in dealing with health concerns that require an examination or quick visit to an ER – especially those that arise unexpectedly and need immediate assistance.
Virtual care goes beyond video conferencing to encompass other elements of healthcare such as appointment scheduling, physician education and training, health record storage and forwarding and retrieval for physician review at later time.
Virtual doctor visits are sometimes known by other names such as telehealth, evisits and mhealth. Telemedicine refers to healthcare that takes place over the Internet through video streaming; often outside traditional doctors’ offices and in peoples’ homes.
Many of us have used the telephone to contact friends or family, while only a select few have experienced “electronic housecall,” also known as telemedicine. With COVID-19 spreading across the nation, many more individuals and providers are becoming aware of telehealth as an option and taking steps to expand it further.
Telemedicine allows you to connect with your physician for online appointments from any device – such as your smartphone, tablet or computer – at a secure app or patient portal. Real-time communications allow you to ask any number of questions ranging from preparation for surgery and refilling prescriptions quickly to how best to prepare for surgery or fill them.
Telehealth services also extend beyond videoconferencing consultations between patients and doctors, to innovative techniques like robotically guided remote surgery procedures. Telehealth jargon includes bits, bytes, analog/digital signals as well as pixels/bandwidths; it all adds up!
During the Visit
Virtual visits allow patients to connect with clinicians long distance, as well as remain at home and receive treatment without having to travel or be admitted into hospital.
Telehealth visits offer care for a range of conditions such as colds, flu, ear infections and migraines. Some telehealth services may be covered by insurance while others can be self-pay.
Virtual telemedicine visits offer the flexibility of fitting around your schedule, which could save you from canceling plans, missing important work meetings or having to rearrange childcare duties for your children.
Telemedicine service providers frequently offer both scheduled and “on-demand” telehealth visits, with scheduled visits functioning much like appointments while “on-demand” visits serve more as walk-in clinics at your local urgent care. Both types of visits have their own set of advantages that contribute to an effective healthcare system that serves everyone – increasing efficiencies, providing care access for rural areas or underserved populations, or making receiving care outside a hospital setting simpler for all involved parties.
After the Visit
Virtual visits offer an easy and cost-effective solution to patients living far from a medical office, elderly individuals with immunocompromised status or those without access to safe transportation options who lack safe transport options; as they reduce both travel expenses and time spent waiting rooms.
Telehealth can be an invaluable asset to healthcare, yet it does have its limitations. Telehealth consultations may not be sufficient in diagnosing health conditions that require a physical exam, laboratory test or X-ray; similarly, prescription issued during an online consultation may require follow-up in person so as to ensure understanding and compliance.
Telehealth can offer greater coordination of care, helping reduce medical errors and interactions, access specialists more readily in rural areas or those having difficulty making it into traditional doctor’s offices and support other nonclinical aspects of care like appointment scheduling or physician education.