As a direct aftermath of COVID, virtual doctor's appointments are becoming more and more popular. And for good reasons. While for most of us it helps save time and money on traveling, the ability to see a doctor for a checkup without leaving one's home can be significant for people with a disability that limits their mobility.
No traffic, no waiting rooms, just you and your doctor face to face on your device screen. If that seems helpful, this blog post is for you. Below we're going to go through how you can use virtual appointments to get treatment from the comfort and convenience of your own home!
How do Virtual Appointments Work?
Virtual care services, known to some as telemedicine or telehealth services, allow a patient to schedule and attend an appointment and get health care remotely using technology like video chatting. Instead of an in-person appointment, you can simply visit your doctor or healthcare provider from your home using a phone, tablet or computer. Other than the device, all you need is internet connection!
What are the Benefits of Virtual Appointments?
Now that you have an idea what telemedicine is, here are the main reasons people chose virtual appointments over traditional primary care physician visits:
Access Care From Anywhere
Virtual visits allow you to connect with your doctor from anywhere using your mobile device or a computer. Whether you’re at home, work, or even traveling, you can log in for your appointment. This makes it much easier to make time for medical care when you lead a busy life.
Save Time and Energy
By eliminating the need to travel to and wait at the doctor’s office, virtual appointments can save you hours of time. The actual visit itself is also usually more efficient since the doctor can focus on you without interruptions. Many routine issues like medication refills, test and screening results, chronic condition management, etc, can often be handled in just 5 to 10 minutes.
Lower Exposure Risk
If you are at higher risk of exposure to illnesses like the flu, colds, or even Covid-19, telemedicine helps limit contact with contagions that may be present in a doctor’s waiting room or clinic. Virtual visits are a safer option, especially if you have a weakened immune system or deal with chronic health conditions.
When Is a Virtual Appointment Right for You?
Telemedicine allows doctors to evaluate symptoms, examine photos or videos, review medical records and test results, diagnose conditions, and recommend treatment plans from a distance.
While many common illnesses and injuries can be managed virtually, some may still require an in-person visit for further evaluation or testing. So the question is: when could a virtual visit be right for you?
- Minor Illnesses or Infections: Minor illnesses like colds, flu, sinus or urinary tract infections, and stomach viruses can often be diagnosed and effectively treated via telemedicine. Doctors can evaluate your symptoms, your medical history, and in some cases, photos to determine if antibiotics or other medications are needed.
- Chronic conditions and Illnesses: Things like high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety can also be managed remotely using telemedicine. Doctors can monitor health stats, adjust medications, and provide counseling and therapy during virtual visits.
- Pediatric: Children's illnesses and behavior or developmental concerns can frequently be addressed through remote sessions as well. Checkups and monitoring of long-term conditions are also possible in some situations.
- Dermatology: Issues like rashes, acne, and mild skin infections can sometimes be assessed and treated via telemedicine using photos and video. Doctors can examine the skin, determine if any testing is needed, and prescribe medication if appropriate.
- Muscle or Skeletal injuries: Injuries such as sprains, strains, and minor fractures may be evaluated via a quick virtual appointment using images and a description of symptoms. Doctors can determine severity, recommend things like resting, icing, physical therapy or other treatments, and advise if an in-person follow up is necessary.
What Kinds of Care Can Be Provided Virtually?
Primary or Basic Care
Virtual appointments are ideal for routine primary care needs, such as medication refills, chronic condition management, and general checkups. Your doctor can review your medical history and symptoms with you over a video call to determine if your condition requires an in-person visit or remote consultation. For minor illnesses like colds, allergies, and rashes, a virtual visit may be all you need to get a diagnosis and prescription.
Behavioral and Mental Health
Virtual behavioral health visits with a therapist or counselor provide discreet, convenient access to services like counseling for anxiety, depression, trauma, or relationship issues. Speaking with a professional counselor over video allows for personal interaction and evaluation to determine a diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan. There's also an added benefit: Many people find online therapy helps lower barriers to seeking mental health support.
Nutrition and Wellness
Dietitians, health coaches, and wellness experts commonly offer virtual consultations. Advice on things like nutrition guidance, exercise plan, and making lifestyle changes can often be given remotely with phone or video calls.
Chronic Condition Monitoring
For people with ongoing health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or COPD, virtual care plays an important role in disease management. Remote patient monitoring with connected devices allows doctors to track health metrics and symptoms to better manage medications and treatment plans without frequent office visits. Patients can stay on top of chronic illnesses using virtual check-ins, health coaching, and monitoring programs.
Apps for Virtual Doctor Visits and Telemedicine
If you have a smart device, FaceTime is a convenient option for a virtual doctor visit. To connect with your doctor’s office, you just provide them with your Apple ID or phone number and FaceTime audio or video call to start the appointment.
The popular video conferencing app, Zoom, can also be used for telemedicine. In fact, many doctor’s offices are already using it for meetings and online events, so they may prefer sticking with it even for scheduling virtual visits. This platform also works on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
Doxy.me is a telemedicine-specific app that many healthcare providers use for virtual appointments. Your doctor's office will provide you a link to enter your virtual waiting room, where you'll provide some basic information like your name and the doctor you're waiting for. Your doctor or a nurse will then start the video call for your appointment. Doxy.me does not require you to download an app or create an account.
Amwell is another popular telemedicine app used by many major health systems and some insurance providers. Once you create an Amwell account, you can schedule virtual urgent care, therapy, or specialist visits with doctors using the app. Appointments are available 24 hours, so Amwell is a good option for after-hours care or if your doctor's office uses the platform.
Teladoc is one of the most prominent telemedicine providers, partnering with many employers, health care plans, and hospital systems to offer virtual care. Just like Amwell, you'll set up an account, provide your insurance info, and schedule a visit with a doctor either by video or phone. Teladoc doctors are also available 24 hours for non-emergency care to diagnose and treat many common health issues.
Is Telehealth Included in Medicare?
If you're enrolled in Medicare, you're probably wondering about telehealth coverage. Here's your answer: Some Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans offer coverage for telehealth services like virtual doctor visits. These Medicare plans, offered by private insurance companies, provide the same coverage as Original Medicare (Parts A and B) as well as additional benefits like telehealth.
Do You Need Telehealth Coverage in Your Medicare Plan?
If telehealth is important to you but your current plan doesn't cover it, it's never too late to switch! Not all Medicare plans are created equal, That's why we're here to help you find a plan that's perfect for you ---
EASY Insurance is a team of experienced agents that are dedicated to helping you find the health plans that best suit you. Whether your need is best served by a government assistance program or a plan offered by a private insurance company, we will guide you through the entire process.
Remember: we're here to help you live an EASY and stress-free life!