Telehealth is a Safe Way to See Your Doctor During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Doctors have connected medicine with technology for years, and so have you. With a few clicks, you can research conditions and symptoms online. You can also have nearly anything delivered to your door. Now, with telehealth, technology can make healthcare convenient.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth is a general term that covers all of the ways you and your doctor can use technology to communicate without being in the same room. It includes phone calls, video chats, emails and text messages. People also call it telemedicine, digital medicine, e-health, or m-health (for “mobile”).
Who Uses It?
If your doctor offers the option, all you need to use telehealth is reliable internet and a phone, smartphone, or computer. PIH Health offers telehealth via its patient portal called “My PIH Health.”
Telehealth is a convenient tool for everyone, but it’s especially helpful if you:
- Would like to see your doctor without physically visiting an office
- Live in a rural area or far from your doctor’s office
- Have limited movement, time, or transportation
- Need medical care while you’re away from home
How Telehealth Works
Depending on what your doctor offers, you can get medical services in different ways. Two of the most common are:
- A patient portal. With the security of a username and password, a patient portal lets you send and get emails from your doctor or nurse, ask for prescription refills, and set up appointments. Your doctor can also share your lab or imaging test results and tell you what they mean. This is often faster than waiting to talk to them on the phone.
- Virtual appointments. Some doctors can let you have an appointment through a phone call or video conference. You can often have these meetings with mental and behavioral health professionals and urgent care clinics, as well.
For Many Issues, but Not All
Telehealth can do many things. But it can’t replace all doctor visits.
If you have a long-term illness, you can use it to share home readings like blood pressure or blood sugar levels and to talk to your doctor about them.
Virtual urgent care can make it easier for you to find out whether you need to go to the doctor’s office. If it’s a common cold, you can stay home. If you have sinus pain, your doctor may be able to walk you through the process of pressing on different parts of your face to figure out what’s causing it.
On the other hand, a sore throat may need an in-person test called a throat culture. An earache could be a sign of an infection that needs closer care. Or you might need a shot of medication to treat your condition.
You can’t have surgery online. But your surgeon can use telehealth to check how you’re healing.
Sometimes, an in-person exam is the only way for your doctor to be sure about your diagnosis.
What Telehealth Services Can I Use?
Check your insurance plan to find out what’s covered under telehealth, including your doctor and urgent care, plus copays and other fees. If you don’t have insurance or if your coverage doesn’t include telehealth, you might be able to pay a fixed fee to use it.
StayWell is proud to share this guest blog from WebMD. This article was originally posted on https://www.webmd.com/lung/how-does-telemedicine-work#1
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WebMD Medical Reference | Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on March 27, 2020
Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, Boston.
Harvard Health Publishing: “Can telemedicine help flatten the curve of COVID-19?”
Mayo Clinic: “Telemedicine: Technology meets health care.”