When you're feeling ill or concerned about your health, you usually make an appointment with your primary care physician. You might go to a care center after hours in an emergency. Your alternatives for care are expanding as communication technology increases. You can receive medical advice via telemedicine services anytime, from any location, without leaving the comfort of your own home.
What exactly is telemedicine?
It is possible to communicate with a healthcare practitioner via technology rather than physically visiting a doctor's office or hospital with telemedicine.
You can contact a healthcare provider via web portals or email when you have symptoms, medical issues, or other concerns. A diagnosis, treatment options, and a prescription can all be obtained through telemedicine. Healthcare providers may be able to remotely monitor readings from medical devices to keep tabs on your health in specific scenarios.
Telemedicine is classified into three types:
- Interactive medicine, sometimes called "live telemedicine," is when doctors and patients converse in real time.
- Remote patient monitoring allows caregivers to monitor patients who use mobile medical devices to record data like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, etc.
- Providers can store and transfer patients' health information to other healthcare professionals or specialists.
Healthcare professionals have been providing remote services since the 1950s. Telemedicine began with landline phones. Telemedicine has expanded to offer assistance in various ways as technology has advanced. It comprises online portals administered by your doctor, video software that allows for remote consultations, and apps operated by telemedicine providers.
How Telemedicine Functions
Depending on your doctor's offer, you can obtain medical treatments in various ways. The following are two of the most common:
A patient-facing website: If you have a login and password for a patient portal, you can communicate with your doctor or nurse, request medication refills, and set up appointments. Additionally, your doctor can explain the significance of your lab or imaging test results. It is quicker than waiting for a phone call to arrive.
Using the internet to make appointments: It is possible to make an appointment via phone or video conference with some doctors. Mental health professionals and urgent care clinics commonly collaborate with these lectures.
How Do Telemedicine Appointments Work?
Telemedicine consultations are similar to in-person consultations. Instead of meeting in person, you'll connect through phone or video call.
The general procedure for telemedicine is as follows:
- Make an appointment with your healthcare practitioner.
- Examine your insurance policy.
- Fill out any paperwork that is requested.
- Collect any pertinent medical records.
- Log in early to put your technology to the test.
- Accept microphone and video access software permissions.
- Wait for your provider to greet you at your appointment.
- During the consultation, you can discuss your health issues and inquiries.
- Payment and appointment information can be found on the patient site.
For virtual appointments, there are various telemedicine apps accessible. When you schedule your appointment, your provider should identify which app or software they use to conduct appointments. They may also send you a link to a waiting area on the day of your appointment.
Your first appointment will almost certainly necessitate some preparation, just as initial office appointments necessitate paperwork. Log in early to approve microphone and camera permissions. These should appear at the top of your browser if you're visiting a website.
The app should take you through this procedure when you register for an app. When you enter the virtual waiting room, your doctor will invite you into a private call as soon as they are available. The appointment should then proceed as usual. If testing is required, the doctor sends you to a lab before or after your visit. Your doctor can meet with you to talk over the results.
Telemedicine Provides Several Advantages
Patients frequently miss hours of their day due to the long drive to the doctor's office. In some circumstances, such as during adverse weather such as heavy rain or snow, leaving the house to receive treatment doesn't seem worth it.
The benefits of telemedicine begin with convenience. Patients can be diagnosed from their own homes using telemedicine, and their medications can be dispatched directly to a nearby pharmacy in some areas. It saves time and allows people in rural locations to receive medical attention whenever needed.
When physicians and patients use telemedicine, both save money. Patients do not incur the cost of missing work associated with traditional appointments, and physicians do not incur the charge of cancellations or no-shows. In some circumstances, a cash-only telemedicine service is less expensive for patients than an urgent care center. Physicians benefit from telemedicine reimbursement that they would not otherwise receive during after-hours consultations.
Chronic illnesses necessitate a significant amount of time spent in a doctor's office, but this is not always essential. Renewing a prescription for many ailments is routine and not worth the long journey. Perhaps your patient has a common cold or a minor infection so that the physical exam can be conducted by video. In such cases, patients can use telemedicine to get prompt treatment, and physicians are not forced to refer patients to quick-care retail clinics.
Infectious Disease Management
Telemedicine discussions between doctors and their patients can prevent the spreading of diseases like COVID-19, the flu, and other dangerous illnesses. It also reduces the number of times sick people go to work. Chronically unwell, pregnant, old, or immunocompromised benefit the most from limiting their contact with other people's germs.
Telemedicine allows some specialized practitioners to see you in the comfort of your home, which might be advantageous for some patients. If you have allergies, allergists, for example, may be able to identify potential triggers in your environment. Neurologists, occupational therapists, and others can keep an eye on you and assess your ability to care for yourself in the comfort of your own house. When it comes to mental health exams and counseling, telemedicine is a great option.
When meeting with your doctor, it's usually a good idea to bring along a family member who can help you present information, ask questions, and record your doctor's responses. If that individual lives out of town or even across the nation, telemedicine can bring them in for a virtual visit if you approve.
Chronic Condition Management and Primary Care
Regular visits to primary care practitioners, such as those specializing in family medicine, internal medicine, and pediatrics, are critical to your family's health. Telemedicine facilitates communication with a doctor or nurse practitioner. Some systems are set up such that new patients can be scheduled with the next available practitioner, saving time.
Telehealth vs. Telemedicine
The use of communication technology to deliver patient care outside of a medical office is known as telemedicine. It is familiar with virtual visits and online care portals. Telehealth is a catch-all for technologies and services aimed at improving public health and healthcare services.
Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth. It covers services other than direct patient care.
Is Telemedicine Insurance Covered?
Many insurance companies recognize the value of telemedicine and provide some coverage. Consult your insurance representative to determine what your benefits entail.
State legislation frequently governs private insurance coverage. Twenty-nine states require private insurance companies to compensate health care providers for telemedicine services. It is known as parity law. The specific telemedicine services and regulations for current and new patients differ per state.
Some insurance companies now provide hotlines and chat facilities to link beneficiaries with doctors around the clock. These services are helpful for minor issues such as cough or sore throat.
Telemedicine has numerous applications. However, it cannot replace all doctor appointments. If there is a chronic condition, you can use it to communicate home measurements such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels with your doctor.
Given the COVID-19 constraints, telemedicine is a thriving sector, and virtual visits aren't going away anytime soon. Prepare for your virtual visit by being acquainted with your insurance benefits, health care provider services, and the telemedicine process.
Telemedicine connects you with medical professionals via phone, video call, remote health monitoring, and online portal access. While prioritizing your health, communicate with your doctors without worrying about transportation or missing time at work.