If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that virtual communication has provided ease and convenience when trying to connect with others. While most of us may be feeling “Zoom fatigue” from our everyday jobs, video and phone appointments are extremely helpful and have become more prominent in the health care world. Telemedicine has made health care more efficient by providing remote access to a variety of medical services, such as evaluation, diagnosis and prescribing treatment. Although telemedicine is not a complete replacement for direct patient care, for example emergencies and complex diagnoses, this technology-based communication allows a doctor and a patient to communicate without being in the same physical space when appropriate.
Most health insurance plans offer coverage for telemedicine visits, and we encourage insurance holders to take advantage of this convenient benefit. Here’s what to know if you’re considering scheduling a telemedicine appointment.
How telemedicine works
Through phone calls or videoconferencing, a patient can communicate directly with a doctor for non-emergency needs. The doctor can meet the patient, assess any symptoms, and obtain patient records and medical history from electronic medical records.
One thing to keep in mind is doctors are limited in the kinds of care they are allowed to provide to a new or existing patient. For example, a doctor may not be able to treat a new condition without scheduling an in-person follow-up appointment.
The benefits of telemedicine
A telemedicine appointment provides several benefits. Telemedicine eliminates the need for travel in many situations. Patients can stay in the comfort of their own homes and potentially prevent further illness from exposure to germs in a hospital or clinic. It also removes barriers for those who have difficulty traveling or live in a rural area, as some people live several miles from the nearest health care provider. In addition, patients who are recovering from illness or injury at home can be monitored by their doctors through telemedicine visits.
How to prepare for a telemedicine appointment
Keep in mind the following tips before your next telemedicine appointment:
- You will need access to a laptop, phone or tablet, as well as reliable internet connection.
- Because there is physical separation in telemedicine, any information you are able to provide, such as personal medical records and family medical history, can be helpful to your doctor.
- If you are recovering or being cared for at home, it might be helpful to involve your caregiver in the appointment.
For many patients, obtaining medical care can cost a great deal in time, resources and money. Telemedicine is a service that can help reduce the barriers of time and distance to a hospital or doctor’s office. To find out if your health plan covers telemedicine visits, log into your account or contact your human resources officer or CanopyNation representative.