The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated the adoption of tele-health. Health systems and hospitals adjusted their workflow in order to reduce in-person care with the use of tele-medicine platforms, smartphones and other devices.
While the trend has been new for many doctor offices, it might be here to stay. Besides easily accessible medical advice, tele-health also promises to save time and money.
A survey, that was conducted by the online physician network Sermo, showed in April that 90% of physicians were using some form of tele-health. 60% were planning to continue tele-health practices after the pandemic.
In order to receive virtual care, patients usually need access to a computer with internet connection, web camera, microphone and speakers or a smartphone.
Cedilia Silva, family nurse practitioner at the AdventHealth Family Medicine Clinic in Harker Heights, explained how patients can get the most out of their virtual doctor visit.
To make sure you are not missing your appointment, she advised to check your technology first.
“If you’re logging on to your visit with your web browser, it’s a good idea to test your device beforehand to make sure your internet, microphone and camera are working correctly,” she said. “If you’re using a smart device, like a phone or tablet, make sure you can use it hand free.”
She recommended patients to write down topics they would like to discuss during the course of the appointment and possible questions that need to be asks.
“It is also helpful to have a list of any medication you may be taking,” Silva said.
Minor health issues such as allergies, the cold or the flu are illnesses that can be easily addressed and treated via telehealth.
“When our patients call to make an appointment, our schedulers can help them determine if a virtual visit is appropriate,” she said.
While many patients can continue receiving care with their usual providers, others opt to connect with doctors on platforms like Teladoc or Doctor on Demand.
Tele-health is also a good way to treat mental-health issues such as anxiety, stress, isolation or depression.
Patients can easily connect with psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors via secure, private and HIPAA-compliant platforms.
However, not every situation is appropriate for tele-health services.
Issues that need hands-on care such as throat cultures, blood samples or earwax removal as well as all life-threatening health issues need to be addressed in person.
“All emergency conditions should be seen by a provider as soon as possible,” Silva said. “For other illnesses, your primary care provider can help you determine if an in-person visit is needed.”