Telehealth is one of the major ways that healthcare is changing. Today around 37% of those over the age of 18 have used telemedicine in the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But what is telemedicine and when should you use it? What conditions is it best suited to? Keep reading here to learn a bit more about this healthcare option and its uses.
What Is Telemedicine?
The use of communication devices and digital technology for accessing and managing healthcare is the definition of telemedicine. It can be used to help facilitate doctor/patient meetings or to talk with someone about a health services issue without stepping into a traditional office. While there are both pros and cons to telehealth services, they can be just what is needed for certain individuals and situations. Talk with a family health insurance provider to see if telehealth services are covered by your policy.
Telemedicine services can range anywhere from a full psychiatric evaluation, to a clinical appointment, to logging food and nutrition macros into an app, and even accessing a patient portal and asking for a prescription refill. While these are all forms of telehealth services, the range of services is widening and expanding each year. Many healthcare officials are now able to do post-office hours telehealth services for their patients that can’t make it into the office.
When to Use Telemedicine Services
If you’ve checked with your family health insurance provider and know that telehealth is an option for you, your next question may be when you should use these types of services. Here are a few times to use telehealth instead of an in-person visit.
Convenience is one of the main reasons that people use telehealth. If you’re on vacation or the doctor’s office is closed, a telehealth visit is an easy way to access the healthcare you need. Also, telemedicine is useful for frugality, as it’s a cheaper option and you typically do not have to take time off work for it.
Some people use telemedicine when they can’t leave their children at home or if they are not sure what healthcare office to go to. Lastly, telemedicine visits are a good way to hear lab results, get prescriptions refilled, or take precautions for those that are chronically ill or disabled. Telemedicine visits help those that have issues getting to and from the doctor’s office still keep their regular appointments without worry.
When Should You Not Use Telemedicine
Telemedicine does have its limits on what it is able to be used for and there are times when you are better off going for an in-person visit. Here are some of the reasons that you may want to choose in-person over telehealth.
If after checking with your family health insurance provider you see that in-office visits are covered but telehealth ones are not, it may be cheaper to go in than to do virtual visits. If you have bad internet connections or don’t have a good webcam or other technological disadvantages, telehealth may not be your best choice.
If you have a particularly distressing symptom such as chest pain, delirium, shortness of breath, turning blue, seizures or weakness, or changes in mental status, you should go to the emergency department instead of telehealth. Life-threatening events are not what telehealth is made for. Lastly, if you know that you need lab work or x-rays, you’ll need to visit a hospital or other medical facility.
Conditions Best Suited for Telemedicine
There are some conditions that are perfectly suited for telehealth visits! These include chronic bladder infections, asthma, allergies, cold or flu symptoms, chickenpox, mouth sores, fever, pinkeye, headaches, insect bites, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, minor injuries, rashes, nausea, vomiting, sports injuries, sinus issues, inflammation, or sore throats. Minor inconveniences are a perfect fit, as well as conditions that you may have chronic and long-term like arthritis and diabetes. If you just need to apprise the doctor about changing symptoms or give an update on the status of your current health, a telehealth visit is perfect.
Want to get started with telemedicine? Reach out to us at Health Insurance Advisors. We’ll set you up with the right plan to get you the healthcare you need.