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.
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 an increased access to doctors and services, thanks to telemedicine.
Online doctors can diagnose and treat common medical needs such as:
The 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.
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:
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:
You 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.