Healthcare from Home: Intro to Telemedicine
COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the United States and National Health Institutes NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci shared that, “It’s certainly going to get worse before it gets better,” which could result in more closures and “social distancing.”
Schools around the country have moved to e-learning exclusively, many employers have encouraged their employees to work from home, and several counties and cities have implemented travel restrictions.
Part of the measures taken by the Trump administration to assist in “social distancing” is by boosting telemedicine services. But how exactly does this help your ability to still get healthcare while you’re at home?
Make Telemedicine Your First Call
Even if you don’t read any further, please remember this one thing: make telemedicine your first call!
Whether it’s to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by not visiting your doctor’s office, or it’s just the simpler, cheaper, and more convenient option, grab your phone before your keys. Start rethinking healthcare!
Is It Actually Affordable and Helpful?
It may sound appealing to video chat your doctor, but I’m sure you’re still just as worried about the cost of telemedicine visits. There’s good news about that too!
Most often, using telehealth services is actually cheaper than visiting a doctor in-person. Copays are generally less expensive, or even at times as low as $0 for these visits. This is especially helpful whenever you are on a high deductible health plan.
How Does Telemedicine Work?
Depending on your specific telemedicine service, you will have a few different options to get connected with a doctor. The most common way is using your mobile phone, but you can often use a computer as well.
You will be required to fill out details about your medical history and digitally sign a few releases so they can treat you if needed. After that, you will answer questions about your current symptoms and possibly even upload photos ahead of your virtual appointment.
Once you have completed those steps, you will be connected with a real doctor. And here is something to emphasize: yes, they are board-certified, 100% genuine, real doctors who are hired by this service to help care for you. Often, they will be some of the same doctors from down the road with your local providers.
Once a diagnosis is reached, the doctor will send any needed Rx prescription to your local pharmacy. We recommend picking one with a drive-thru (especially when sick) so you don’t even have to get out of your car!
How Long Has This Been Available?
Telemedicine has been considered successful in many respects since the 1990s. In 2014, there was an increase in usage by the military, which led to the federal government investing $16 million in 2016 to further its development and implementation. Today, 96% of all large employers provide access to telehealth services.
How Many Medical Issues Can Telemedicine Address?
While telemedicine cannot help with every issue, it can help with many needs. The most common usage would include care for conditions like the flu, sinus infections, or stomachaches. However, that’s not all!
You will also likely get access to pediatricians that can help with things like pink eye or rashes, and even have the opportunity to chat with a dermatologist, therapist or psychiatrist, with options to get second opinions!
How Do I Get it Setup?
The best way for you to get started is by logging onto the portal for your health benefits. Many people have never even done this, so that is the best place to get started. You will likely need your insurance card handy.
From there, you will often see the telemedicine services being promoted. Because after all, insurance companies know it saves everyone time and money when we do things more efficiently. If you cannot easily find the telemedicine section, the most common areas to locate instructions will be under Resources, Services, or search their Help pages.
If you would like more information on telemedicine, we would be happy to serve you as best as we can! To get connected with our team of specialists, you can email us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you take advantage of this amazing innovation!