Choose the Proper Telehealth Service for You

Telehealth refers to any kind of healthcare which is done over a distance, utilizing live audio and video. While telehealth has existed for years, it has seen a surge in use due to technological advancements, making it much easier for both doctors and patients to communicate with one another using telecommunication. In 2020, telehealth has become even more important due to Covid-19, which makes it difficult for patients to visit their doctor. Even as the pandemic dies down, medical experts predict telehealth will continue to surge.

Telehealth is useful outside of the pandemic as well. For many, it is difficult to schedule a doctor’s appointment. If you feel sick, it can be a challenge to get out of bed and drive to see a doctor in the first place. It becomes even harder if you live in a rural area with limited access to medical facilities. The problem is compounded when you only need to see your doctor for a few minutes. Telehealth offers solutions to problems and often at an extremely low cost, or no cost, to you.

When to Use Telehealth Services

Many critics argue that telehealth services cannot replace a traditional doctor visit. This is not an incorrect statement, but it misunderstands what telehealth services are for. Telehealth is only meant to be used in certain, non-emergency situations. Common examples of using telehealth include contacting your doctor when you have a bad cold or flu, suffer from a sore throat, or have a minor injury, such as a sprained ankle.

While telehealth cannot be used to treat more serious conditions, it still has a purpose. For example, if you suffer from a chronic illness and were recently prescribed new medication, you could use telehealth services to contact your doctor if you are feeling strange side effects. If these effects are normal with the new medication, you and your doctor can discuss a new prescription. In case your condition is not normal, you could schedule an immediate appointment to see your doctor in person.

Benefits of Telehealth Services

Telehealth offers additional benefits, beside saving you a trip to the doctor’s office. Many patients who use telehealth find they spend less money on medical expenses. Going to the hospital or emergency room is expensive, especially when you must take time off from work to make an appointment. Telehealth gives you the opportunity to quickly assess your medical situation with your doctor and decide whether you need any additional treatment. In some cases, the best thing to do is rest and recover, or your doctor can quickly prescribe an over the counter medication. This is much easier and significantly less expensive than visiting the emergency room.

If you have an existing disability or medical condition that makes it difficult to travel, telehealth is an excellent way to stay in touch with your doctor. It is common for disabled patients to ignore preventive care because arranging an appointment is difficult. This is also common among senior citizens, who often rely on friends and family for rides. Telehealth allows these patients to easily communicate with their doctor and figure out whether they need additional treatment, or if there is something they can do from home.

Telehealth is especially helpful if you have a compromised immune system. Going to visit the doctor in person means sitting around in waiting rooms, surrounded by germs and other sick people. Avoiding sick people is even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Choosing a Telehealth Service

If you are interested in telehealth services, your first step is speaking with your doctor. Chances are your doctor already provides telehealth services, so you do not need to worry about finding a new provider. If your doctor does not currently provide telehealth services, you have a number of options to choose from. One of the advantages of telehealth services is you are not limited by distance, but this also comes with disadvantages.

There are times where you need more than telehealth services to treat your medical issues, which means getting in-person treatment. If you are using a different doctor than your telehealth provider, he or she is going to be out of the loop. It is also possible your telehealth provider disagrees with your doctor, which can make it difficult to get reliable assessments in the future. Whenever possible, consider a doctor who does both.

How to Find a Telehealth Service

One of the ways to find a telehealth provider is to speak with your doctor. Even if your doctor’s practice does not provide telehealth services, he or she may have a colleague to recommend. This is ideal because you know the two doctors get along well and are comfortable communicating with one another.

Communication among doctors is important, but it is also vital to be comfortable talking to your doctor using telecommunications. Speaking with someone using phone or video is not the same as seeing him or her in person. If you do not feel comfortable enough to openly communicate with your doctor, your health is at risk. One important question to ask is whether you always speak with the same doctor, or if the telehealth provider has a rotating host who responds to patients based on availability.

If you have an existing medical condition or disability, consider a doctor who is specialized in your condition. Otherwise, it may be too difficult for your chosen doctor to diagnose you at a distance, and may make unnecessary trips to the doctor.

It is important to pick a telehealth provider who uses approved equipment. Telehealth services use specific apps and software. If your doctor wants to diagnose you using a common app, such as Facetime or Skype, he or she is not set up to provide telehealth services. Medical platforms offer a level of privacy and protection that Skype and Zoom cannot offer.

What Do You Need for Telehealth Services?

As a patient, you do not have as much setup as a doctor, but you still need certain basic equipment to make telehealth services work. Some telehealth services operate on a smartphone, but in many cases, your doctor requires you to have a desktop computer or laptop, as well as a webcam. You must also be able to verbally communicate, either with a microphone attached to your computer or webcam, or by speaking over the phone. Finally, you must have a reliable internet connection, and some way of streaming video.