Imagine that you're traveling for work, and you feel a sudden sore throat coupled with sinus pain. Since you're on the road, you can't get to your primary care doctor, and you worry you'll miss tomorrow's big conference.
So you do some research and determine that telemedicine is a good option for you to get a diagnosis and care for your symptoms. But what do you need for this first visit?
This guide will explore the world of virtual healthcare and provide a detailed checklist to prepare for your first telemedicine visit.
Telemedicine connects patients with medical professionals in real time by phone or online. Thanks to telemedicine, medical professionals can now evaluate, diagnose and treat patients using technology like video conferencing and smartphones - all without the need for an in-person visit.
Still, telemedicine acts like an in-person doctor visit: Your online doctor provides the same level of health care that you would receive in an office. During your appointment, your doctor discusses your symptoms and develops a treatment plan.
But it’s important to note that telemedicine is used for non-emergency health situations, like a cold, fever, skin condition, or sinus infection.
People choose telemedicine for different reasons - mainly because it's a convenient way to get medical care without leaving your home.
Maybe you're unable to travel to a doctor's office because of medical reasons or lack transportation. Or you might live in a rural area without medical services, so seeing a doctor requires traveling long distances. If so, telemedicine could be the answer, better fitting your schedule and saving you precious time.
Since telemedicine visits happen in the privacy of your own home, you don't have to worry about travel time, long spells in the waiting room, or taking time off of work.
Telemedicine covers everyday illnesses such as the flu, conjunctivitis (pink eye), bladder infections, yeast infections, acid reflux, and certain skin conditions. Certain telehealth professionals can also provide treatment plans for mental health services, like the treatment of depression, anxiety or stress.
What telemedicine doesn't include are emergency-related health concerns such as stroke, heart attacks, and major accidents.
Now that you know a bit more about telemedicine, you may have questions on how to prepare for your first appointment. Follow this checklist to make the most of your appointment.
Finding spur-of-the-moment privacy can sometimes be difficult, especially if you live with other people. So before your appointment, choose a quiet room for your virtual appointment and ask your family or roommates to respect your privacy. This way you won't worry about interruptions.
Whether you're using a smartphone, computer or tablet, it's recommended to learn how to use the telemedicine company's app or video chat software beforehand. Some telemedicine companies may use well-known video services such as FaceTime (for Mac users), WhatsApp, and Skype (Windows). Or you might decide to simply speak to your doctor over the phone, if that's an option.
Check with your telemedicine company ahead of time to learn the ins and outs. It'll help ease any stress or worry about the technicalities of the visit.
When booking your appointment with an online doctor, you'll be asked to fill in your complete medical history and answer questions related to your symptoms. Be sure to gather relevant documents regarding your medical history ahead of time. For example, if your primary care physician offers an online health portal, it's recommended to have your information pulled up and ready to go for your visit.
Your telemedicine doctor may also ask you questions about your lifestyle, job and family life and, if appropriate, your mental health history. The purpose of the appointment is to provide you with the best possible care and treatment. Sharing personal details allows your doctor to diagnose and provide quality care.
Like any doctor's appointment, you should be ready with the following pieces of information:
It's natural for a doctor's appointment to make you a little nervous - especially when it's with a new doctor. So you may forget to ask crucial questions during your visit.
That's why it's recommended to make a list of questions to ask your online doctor. While each person's healthcare situation is unique, here are seven sample questions to get you started:
Your treatment plan may be as simple as, "drink plenty of liquids and get some rest." But in some cases, you may need to have a prescription filled or to make an appointment to see another doctor or specialist in person. If possible, take notes on the treatment plan and what your next steps are during the appointment.
In some cases, one appointment is all you need to diagnose and treat routine health conditions like a cold or the flu. But if symptoms persist or you need ongoing care to check chronic conditions, you may need follow-up care through another telemedicine appointment or in person. You may also need a prescription, so discussing the next step is helpful.
Today, telemedicine is becoming more and more common. Here are some fast facts based on a white paper published by FAIR Health between 2014 and 2018:
Given this support and its rising popularity, telemedicine may become the new norm. The benefits are well-known, too:
Check with your health insurance company to see if telemedicine is an offered benefit. If it's not, you can get a "Teladoc" quote and purchase a plan through our site. The process is easy and takes minutes: The online application only requires your zip code, name and age. Once you enter this information, you'll receive your quote immediately.
Teladoc is a large network of board-certified doctors and pediatricians who provide virtual healthcare anywhere at any time. Telehealth services offered through Teladoc depend on the health plan but can cover everything from everyday medical problems to mental health concerns.
Telemedicine has become a vehicle to strengthen engagement between patients and doctors by connecting them in real-time via phone or online. Thanks to telemedicine, medical professionals can now evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients using technology like video conferencing and smartphones — all without the need for an in-person visit. And with technology only becoming an even bigger part of the way we interact, telemedicine is likely to serve an important role in healthcare today and in the future. Though we live in a digital age, there are still myths about telemedicine, online doctors, and new digital options for medical care. That said, let's bust 10 common telemedicine myths. Telemedicine myths vs. realities Myth #1 – Telemedicine doesn’t use real doctors. Reality: Telemedicine doctors are board-certified and licensed to practice in your state. These doctors live in the United States and face rigorous training and credentialing, so you’ll always get expert advice on your non-emergency medical condition. One note: A telemedicine doctor shouldn't replace your primary care physician. Having both a primary care doctor and telemedicine can improve the quality of your healthcare and gives you access to a doctor for almost every medical scenario. Meet with your primary care physician to address health issues that your telemedicine doctor doesn’t cover. Myth #2 – A virtual doctor can't diagnose my condition.Reality: Telemedicine doctors can treat illnesses such as the flu, conjunctivitis (pink eye), bladder infections, yeast infections, acid reflux, and skin conditions. Certain telehealth professionals can also provide treatment plans for mental health services, like the treatment of depression, anxiety or stress. An official diagnosis is provided for each of these respective illnesses and health problems after a telemedicine doctor assesses your condition.What telemedicine doesn't include are emergency-related health concerns such as stroke, heart attacks, and major accidents. Always call 911 in those situations.Myth #3 – An online doctor can’t prescribe medication.Reality: After you talk to a doctor online and get an official diagnosis, your online doctor can prescribe you medication to treat your condition. Your virtual doctor will then submit prescription orders to your pharmacy of choice.While companies like Teladoc do cover prescriptions for a host of health issues, there are some exclusions. Online doctors can't prescribe controlled substances like opiate-based painkillers.Myth #4 – Virtual doctor appointments take place at inconvenient times.Reality: Finding free time to go see a doctor during the week can be challenging, especially if you have a "9 to 5" job. But telemedicine gives you access to medical professionals at any time, so you can likely schedule an appointment at a time that works for you.Through a HIPAA-approved technology platform, you'll get access to care 24/7, 365 days a year. As a bonus: You'll avoid commutes and waiting room delays. This advantage helps you keep your busy schedule on track while still receiving quality healthcare on a regular basis.Myth #5 – My telemedicine appointment will be time restricted.Reality: Doctors can sometimes rush in-person appointments because of their packed schedules with many patients to see in a single day. Telemedicine appointments, unlike a traditional in-person doctor’s visit, can free you from potentially frustrating time restrictions. Your online doctor will stay on the call as long as you need to ensure you receive the quality care you deserve. And they'll make sure all of your concerns are addressed before the appointment ends.Virtual doctors also have no maximum visit capacity, so you can connect with online providers as much as you'd like. You may also be able to request a specific doctor for your visit, depending on your plan benefits.But remember the reality of myth #1: All telemedicine doctors are board-certified and state-licensed. You are meeting with healthcare professionals who are qualified to assess your condition, provide an official diagnosis, and follow-up with proper treatment recommendations.Myth #6 – I can only use video technology for my telemedicine appointment.Reality: You might dread the thought of a face-to-face virtual consultation over webcam or FaceTime, but most telehealth providers allow you to talk to a doctor through an online chat or by phone. Telemedicine services can typically accommodate your request if you'd prefer to connect with your doctor in a non-visual way.Myth #7 – Telemedicine treatment is too limited.Reality: Virtual doctors aren't a good option for emergencies. But they can treat over 40 common medical issues including:Cold and fluAllergiesSinus infectionFeverStrep throatAsthmaSkin conditions like hives and rashesWomen’s health issuesMen’s health issuesAllergiesMigrainesIf you prefer to manage most of your standard healthcare digitally, then telemedicine covers a wide range of illnesses for quality care that you can depend on.Myth #8 – Telemedicine won’t "stick."Reality: We live in a world of Uber Eats, Instacart, and Amazon - all have goods and services you can order from your couch. With telemedicine, you can talk to a doctor from the comfort of your own home, too.In other words: Connectivity is king these days. In fact, studies show that 40% of millennials view telemedicine as a "very important" option for their health care.Myth #9 – Telemedicine is more expensive than traditional medical visits.Reality: Individuals and employers alike may see lower health care costs when using telemedicine over urgent care services. In fact, one study estimated that patients save approximately $100 on an average telehealth visit, with $75 of that devoted to health care costs and the other $25 to travel and time spent seeking care. When you consider the convenience of this innovative healthcare option paired with the type of savings you can potentially expect for your digital visits with online doctors, the value of telemedicine services really begins to stand out.An important call out: Telemedicine isn't insurance, but many insurance companies offer a telehealth benefit or allow you to purchase it as an add-on to your plan. Check with your insurance provider to see if telemedicine is a covered benefit.Myth #10 – My health information won't be safe or secure when using telemedicine.Reality: Privacy is always a concern. But all telemedicine companies have to comply with the same rules that hospitals and doctors do, including all relevant state, national, and international regulations, including the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). And all telemedicine technology, including video chat systems used to conduct patient appointments, must pass HIPAA compliance.In other words: Your medical information is protected, and it won't be shared without your consent. Strict laws and regulations keep your medical files safe and away from parties that have no legal right to view this personal information.What are the advantages of telemedicine?Saves time. Surveys show that telemedicine appointments average 14 minutes compared to an average of two hours for doctor visits in person.Saves money. Statistics show that many co-pays for telemedicine visits are either the same cost or cheaper than co-pays for doctor visits in person.Increases access to care. Telemedicine has expanded access to healthcare for rural residents, especially.Widely adopted. Nearly 25% of U.S. consumers have had a telemedicine visit with a doctor. There are also more than 200 telemedicine networks with 3,500 service sites in the U.S.Expanding nationwide. Survey statistics indicate that 96% of major American companies will provide telemedicine services for employees as state healthcare laws allow.Used in hospitals. Medical facilities are also experiencing the benefits of telemedicine services with over 60% of hospitals using this technology for remote patient monitoring.Provides patient satisfaction. Telemedicine patients appear to be pleased with the results of their online doctor visits: 83% of survey respondents found virtual appointments on par or more appealing than a traditional trip into the doctor’s office.Find telehealth servicesGetting access to 24/7 online care is just a few clicks away: You can check out telemedicine features and prices through our website.We work with telemedicine partner, Teladoc, a company that offers a large network of board-certified doctors and pediatricians who provide virtual healthcare anywhere at any time. Telehealth services offered through Teladoc depend on the plan you choose, but services can cover everything from everyday medical problems to mental health concerns.
Should you speak to an online doctor or in person? Let us help you decide! It's exciting to see how technology has evolved and improved health outcomes for residents nationwide. One prime example is telemedicine: You can set up a virtual appointment with a doctor across the country, get an immediate diagnosis, and receive treatment so you can feel better. Telemedicine is made possible through technology like laptops, smartphones, apps or video chat systems. People have been turning to virtual medicine as a convenient and affordable alternative to traditional doctor visits. And several major insurance companies include telemedicine in their covered services and encourage policy members to use this option if it fits their situation. But in many cases, seeing a doctor in person makes sense. So which is right for you? Let's cover the pros and cons of talking to a doctor online versus seeing a doctor in person. What Is Telemedicine? Telemedicine services, like appointments, prescriptions, and diagnostic testing, are delivered online through board-certified licensed doctors across the country. In other words, it connects you with medical professionals in real-time by phone or online. But it's important to note that telemedicine is used for non-emergency health situations. People living in rural or remote locations have found telemedicine to be especially beneficial. Rural residents typically travel long distances for basic and specialized health care. But rural residents are now seeing increased access to doctors and services, thanks to telemedicine. What can online doctors treat?Online doctors can diagnose and treat common medical needs such as:Cold, flu and other virusesInfections, rashes, and allergiesPrescription drugs and refillsChronic condition maintenance for diabetes, blood pressure and moreTreatment for some mental health issues like depression and anxietyRoutine follow-up visits after a surgery or an illnessEducational appointments to explain how to use an inhalerSharing of health data through digital devicesThe specific services and prescriptions that online doctors offer to virtual patients vary on a state-by-state basis. The federal government has set basic guidelines for the regulation of telemedicine services, which are intended to steer state governments to create their own local legislation.Most states have additional regulations governing which types of services and prescriptions a resident can receive online, especially for a first-time prescription or therapy. As an example, Kansas is one of the only states that gives virtual doctors some flexibility with prescription medications.The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) oversees regulations and recommendations concerning telemedicine and related virtual health services on the national level.Virtual doctor vs. in-person doctor: What's the difference?One obvious difference between online doctors and in-person primary care physicians is that online doctors cannot physically examine patients.And though virtual doctors can prescribe most medications, controlled substances can rarely be prescribed online due to a national rule developed to combat the current opioid epidemic.Both traditional medical care and telemedicine services have pros and cons that patients should evaluate before choosing which type best suits their medical needs.And the truth is: You shouldn't replace your physician with an online doctor. So it's wise to maintain regular appointments with your in-person physician.That said, the pros and cons include:Pros of telemedicineConvenience: You can access high-quality virtual services from the comfort of your own home with nothing more than your mobile phone.Speed: Virtual appointments can be scheduled sooner and completed faster than in-person appointments. And you don't need to worry about traveling to a doctor's office or waiting in line.Access: Patients can make immediate appointments with an array of specialized doctors nationwide, and receive care 24/7, 365 days a year.Affordability: Telemedicine services often cost less than their equivalent in-person medical care.Privacy: Telemedicine services must adhere to HIPAA privacy rules, which means your medical information will be safe and secure.Cons of telemedicineLimited services: Online doctors can only diagnose and treat basic medical services, not complex conditions.Limited assessments: Since you're not being seen in person, online doctors can't conduct comprehensive physical exams.Limited physicians: Not all physicians participate in telemedicine programs.Limited with prescriptions or tests: In most states, telemedicine doctors can't prescribe all medications or conduct certain medical tests.Resistance to technology: Both doctors and patients must be able to use technology to connect with each other and conduct a telemedicine appointment. This can lead to resistance from patients who may not be comfortable using technology or doctors who don’t want to change their practice patterns.Pros of seeing a doctor in personAbility to conduct physical exams: The biggest benefit of seeing a doctor in person is the ability of the doctor to physically examine the patient - a more comprehensive way to diagnose and treat health conditions.Consistent patient-doctor relationship: Your primary care physician is typically someone you know and trust with your health care needs because they understand your health status and medical history.Offers care for emergencies: You should always call 911 if you're facing a medical emergency. Online doctors can't treat you in these types of situations.Cons of seeing a doctor in personWait times: Longer lead time is typically needed to see a doctor in person. Then, you may face longer wait times once you're in the waiting room to see the doctor.Higher costs: In-person appointments can be more costly than online appointments. One study estimated that patients save approximately $100 on an average telehealth visit, with $75 of that devoted to health care costs and the other $25 to travel and time spent seeking care.Geographic limitations: Most people can only afford to see doctors who live in their nearby area. If you need a specialist, seeing the right doctor in person may not be an option.Which type of medical care is right for you?Having both a primary care doctor and telemedicine can improve the quality of your healthcare and gives you access to a doctor for almost every medical scenario. Ask yourself these questions when determining whether an online doctor or in-person doctor is right for your situation:Is my medical condition an emergency?Will I potentially need a prescription for my condition?Does my insurance company offer telemedicine benefits?What are the out-of-pocket costs to see a doctor vs. book an appointment with a doctor online?What are my state's laws on telemedicine?Learn moreYou can get a Teladoc quote and purchase a plan through our site. The process is easy and takes minutes.You can also see how Teladoc works by checking out the steps needed to set up a Teladoc account.
It's no secret that the healthcare industry is changing every day. Medical professionals and healthcare leaders are consistently pursuing ways to improve health outcomes, services, and costs. One big advancement worth talking about is telemedicine. While it's not necessarily a new concept, telemedicine delivers both convenience and cost savings for many people, resulting in a recent surge in its popularity. Here are five ways telemedicine is impacting healthcare: 1. Telemedicine can be a cost-effective option for patients. The cost to receive telemedicine services will vary depending on your health insurance plan and the reason for your visit. Still, it tends to be a cheaper option than seeing a doctor in person. In fact, one study one study estimated that patients save approximately $100 on an average telehealth visit, with $75 of that devoted to health care costs and the other $25 to travel and time spent seeking care. HealthLeaders Media also reported savings between $309 to $1,500 in emergency room costs. So instead of going to the ER for something as simple as a cold, you can speak to a doctor by phone or video chat and receive the same treatment - potentially at a lower cost. In certain cases for elderly care, a patient can receive rehabilitation at home rather than at a retirement home or assisted living facility. Some facilities use telemedicine monitoring through cameras and analytical software — which enabxles providers to gather data and hold remote consultations with the patient to monitor his or her treatment and overall health. This option can result in cost savings over time. Some evidence also suggests that telemedicine may also improve healthcare outcomes for the elderly. Staying in the comfort of their own homes appears to increase their overall well-being. 2. Telemedicine increases patient engagement. With telemedicine care, you can review your treatment plan and medical records in real-time, allowing you to ask questions to your assigned virtual doctor. Plus, scans and results can be sent directly to you. Certain telemedicine companies have even created apps to better organize your medical information and health goals all in one place, which may help you: Store personal health information and vital signs Schedule medicine reminders Record caloric intake and track physical activity These time-saving technology measures encourage patients to become more engaged in their overall health. This is especially meaningful if you're dealing with a chronic condition such as diabetes, heart problems, or behavioral health. 3. Telemedicine expands access to care for rural residents. Telemedicine can make an impact in rural areas, especially. Approximately 62 million Americans—or 1 in 5 people—live in rural areas, with just 9% of all physicians practicing in these settings. That means there’s room for improvement. Our government leaders recognize these concerns, so they've invested significantly in expanding telemedicine services in small towns. One area of development is stroke prevention. Some research shows using telestroke networks in remote places helps reduce instances of strokes. Telemedicine can offer convenient access to medical care that may not otherwise be available to rural residents. If you’re in a rural community, you may have to travel long distances or take precious time off of work to get the care you need. So the bottom line is: Access to ongoing healthcare and monitoring services can improve health outcomes in rural areas. 4. Telemedicine makes healthcare more convenient Let's face it: Visiting your doctor or dealing with unpredictable wait times at an urgent care facility isn't always convenient. Instead, it's nice to get care from the comfort of your own home. Telemedicine may offer faster diagnosis and treatment since you can make an appointment online and avoid sitting in a waiting room. Or maybe you don't want to bump into other patients or spread your illness. Telemedicine and telehealth services can happen 24/7, making them practical and convenient. 5. Telemedicine makes mental health services more accessible Nearly 50% of adults in the United States will have a mental health incident in their lifetime. But if you can't access mental health experts or are worried about the possible stigma of receiving care, you might avoid getting treatment. Certain telemedicine services might include mental health services at a reasonable cost through teleconferencing, phone communication, or text messaging. Therapists can deliver cognitive therapy via video chat and send reminder messages to take medications, or forward the session recording to another specialist for a second opinion. In many cases, telemedicine and telehealth mean the same thing: Health care delivered through technology. But telehealth services may have expanded coverage for certain illnesses, mental health support, and educational services. One well-known telemedicine company is Teladoc. Treatment plans and methods vary, so it's important to know what's covered through your telemedicine provider. What is telemedicine anyway? Telemedicine combines traditional medical care with technology to deliver patient services remotely via phone call or online video chat - the method of communication is in the control of the patient. In other words, telemedicine offers patients easy access to doctors and specialists at any time. Telemedicine delivers the same care you'd receive face-to-face without the hassle of traveling long distances, taking time off work, or being too sick to leave your home. And depending on your telemedicine plan, you may be able to talk to a doctor online within a few hours of signing up. Anyone can take advantage of telemedicine, but the services provided may not fit all needs. Virtual doctors typically treat non-emergency illnesses such as: Cold and flu Sinus infection Fever Nausea and vomiting Asthma Skin conditions like hives and rashes Women’s health issues Men’s health issues Allergies Migraines And if security and privacy is a concern, know that all telemedicine providers must be HIPAA-compliant. HIPAA requires that a patient's medical information remain confidential. Telemedicine does not cover emergencies If you have a cold or flu, consulting with an online doctor is a quick way to receive treatment. For those with sinus infections, strep throat, or bladder infections, you can benefit from telemedicine, too. But if you have a life-threatening emergency or accident, telemedicine isn’t the answer. Some types of emergencies include broken bones, heart attacks, and strokes. For emergency medical concerns, calling 911 is always your best bet. Telemedicine is available anywhere, any time Telemedicine is for people living in urban and remote areas. Rural residents may have limited access to doctors and specialists, making telemedicine a good answer. Other people who benefit from telemedicine are people experiencing an insurance gap who need an affordable way to get basic medical care, or those unable to request time off work to see a doctor. What does the future of telemedicine look like? As technology continues to advance, it’s likely that the use of telemedicine will continue to increase. A white paper, published by FAIR Health, showed that telehealth grew by 1,393% between 2014 to 2018. That said, the future of telemedicine looks bright. Still, there are some issues to overcome. The first is low awareness: Many people don't realize telemedicine might be a good option for them. The second challenge is that people may shy away from the technological aspect. We're often used to the traditional face-to-face interactions with our doctors, so getting care online or by phone may make patients uncomfortable, even though it can be just as effective in many cases. Also, some health insurance companies don't offer telemedicine services quite yet. Is telemedicine right for you? The question of whether telemedicine is right for you depends on preferences and health situation. If you prefer face-to-face communication with a doctor or need more extensive care, it may not be the answer. But if you live in a rural place, you're short on time, or in between health insurance coverage, telemedicine offers access, convenience, and lower cost. The choice is up to you and your health needs. Get a telemedicine quote today Though it's a relatively new concept to many, finding a telemedicine company is easier than you think. Costs for telemedicine vary by age, gender, and location, ranging anywhere from $10 to $20 a month for individuals. Beyond this monthly fee, you also should consider costs for a telemedicine appointment. Start by getting a quote of costs and services provided through our telemedicine partner, Teladoc. Signing up is easy and takes only a few minutes. Teladoc provides you with a national network of licensed medical professionals who can help you with routine care, personal wellness, physical therapy, mental health and more.