In the past few days, I’ve been asked a lot about telemedicine by many of my family members/mother’s friends (I love you mom!). To help clarify, in the next few posts, I am going to help answer some really basic questions on telemedicine.
First up: What is a telemedical or telehealth visit or online visit?
A telemedical or telehealth or online visit is a way for patients to connect to their healthcare providers virtually, without stepping foot into a doctor’s office.
Often this involves using a smartphone with a camera, or a laptop with a camera, to connect a patient with a physician to allow for a video chat, but it can also mean a simple telephone call with your provider.
What are the benefits of a telemedical or telehealth visit?
Telemedical or telehealth visits allow patients to have continued access to care from the comfort of their home. During this changing time, it allows access to your provider without risking exposure to coronavirus.
There are other benefits for patients though:
- You save on travel time. The visit can be done from anywhere. (Seeing your doctor in your bathroom however, might be awakened for all. Patients may want to keep their surroundings in mind.)
- No need to wait in an office waiting room.
- These visits are always more cost effective then an urgent care; for most plans they can be billed through insurance.
- Can help determine whether or how urgently you need to be seen in person.
Do I need software or a special application?
This depends on what software your healthcare provider is using for the telemedical or telehealth visit. Some telemedical software does require you to download an application, and this is usually easily done through your smartphone’s application store. Other telemedical software does not require you to download anything new.
Finally, in light of the current coronavirus emergency, the department of Health and Human Services is allowing providers to use some popular applications that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype.