Telehealth is gaining popularity as the current global public health crisis reshapes our everyday lives. Even before the current crisis, doctors and patients alike were questioning the need for many routine office visits. The time and effort needed for an office visit that may last for only a few minutes and could have just as easily been done over the phone had led to numerous innovations. In recent years, many clinics and doctor’s offices have been triaging patients on the phone lines to help patients determine whether or not they need to be seen, report to an emergency care office, or if the symptoms they are experiencing can be handled from home.
Telehealth is a broad term that can refer to a broad range of healthcare activities. This includes consulting with specialists from far away, remote patient monitoring, and remote in-home visits for patients. Telehealth professionals may employ a variety of tools to connect with patients, including video conferencing and medical equipment that can be remotely monitored. Telehealth is not only for private homes and clinics but can be employed at schools, in senior living facilities, hospitals, prisons, and pharmacies.
Now that telehealth is more widespread, many patients who are used to the traditional way of doing things may be a little skeptical or unaware of what to expect during a telehealth appointment. Typically, the patient will need to be in a quiet place with a solid internet connection. You may need to download a specific app or use a specific online portal, all of which should be provided by your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider should have access to your medical records and should also be in a place where your privacy is ensured, just like an in-person visit.
Your health care provider should review your records and ask you a number of diagnostic questions. If you have been feeling ill, be sure to monitor your temperature and report any medications you have been taking. If you have hypertension, it is a good idea to keep track of your blood pressure using an at-home monitor and report those readings as well. If you have any questions, write them down so that you won’t forget to ask your doctor. If you have lesions, rashes, or any other physical symptoms, you will need to be able to show your physician.
In most cases, after a short conversation about your concerns, you will either be asked to come into the office for further tests or given a diagnosis. In most cases, the physician can send any prescriptions directly to your pharmacist. Any forms that are needed can be filled out and signed and returned electronically. In short, the visit should mostly resemble any other appointment you’ve had without the inconvenience of going into the office or risking infection from other patients in the waiting room.