Telemedicine and You – What You Need to Know Before Signing OnMelanie Tawil
Welcome to 2020, where we are in the midst of a pandemic, grocery shelves are still a bit iffy, and Telehealth is now part of the routine. You may be like the millions of others who are over the age of 50 and now putting off routine office visits that are vital to your specific needs. Before you hold off and wait “until this is all over”, you really should see if your health care provider is offering telehealth as an option for your routine care. Being able to remotely connect with a health care provider either through telephone, mobile application, or webcam is something of the Jetsons, but welcome to the 21st century.
When you hear the term telemedicine or telehealth just know that both are the same thing. It just depends on what your doctor chooses to use. Either way you call it, it’s a great way for doctors to keep up with your wellness situations, but it’s not for all items. A medical emergency or a case that is too specific may be a bit more complex than what telehealth has to offer for you and will require a visit to the doctor or hospital. For most cases that aren’t urgent care, telehealth is a great option for those nonsevere cases. Patients are loving telehealth for the convenience, there is no drive, park, and going through the hassle of seeing a doctor. Everything is from the privacy of your home and at your convenience.
Ask your doctor what the protocols are for their specific office. Some may use a web-based server like doxy.me while others use applications that are available on Apple and Android devices. Here are some very common steps and tips to help you prepare for this virtual visit.
1. GET THAT TECH READY
You can’t do this without a secure system so make sure that you have a good smartphone, tablet, or PC for your remote appointment along with reliable Internet, this is especially needed if you’re doing a video connection because you’re going to need a strong system in order to have an effective appointment.
2. CHECK YOUR INSURANCE
Not all private insurance providers will be ok with telehealth, so check with your provider. As a reminder, insurance providers are mandated by different state regulations so check and see what you will be provided. If you’re on Medicare, they will pay for telehealth services to treat COVID-19 (coronavirus) and other medically reasonable purposes. Your typical coinsurance and deductibles will apply.
3. DESCRIBE ALL OF YOUR SYMPTOMS
Before your appointment, use whatever note-taking system you prefer and write down all of your symptoms so you don’t forget any. This is just like a normal doctor’s appointment, your provider will ask for any updates to your health. Make sure you take the time to really think these through so that you can answer appropriately. Depending on the system, you may be asked to fill in or check off symptoms.
4. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR SECURITY AND PRIVACY
You will more than likely be asked to provide a password for your security. Approach this medical process like you would a financial one. Try to go somewhere private during your session so that you will be more comfortable.
5. IN-PERSON SITUATIONS…
While the doctor can ask you to stick out your tongue, walk around, take photos of skin conditions, only so much of a routine appointment can be done over the phone. If blood needs to be drawn, an X-ray or that dreaded strep test needs to be conducted, you may need to be seen in person. Given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic you may be able to skirt by for a few moments though.
And don’t worry, you can still get your prescriptions filled after your session. Make sure to ask your provider to call in a prescription or refill as needed.