Since you are talking to a health care provider, the information will be covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which means that it stays with the health care provider and can only be shared with your insurer for payment. The health care provider will likely record your information in an electronic health record, which is kept securely by the health system.
What are the common benefits of telemedicine?
Telemedicine or telehealth is virtual care or virtual health care with the use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and smartphones. This allows you to gain access to health care services remotely. The common benefits of telemedicine may include
- Increased access to care: Telemedicine helps overcome these geographical barriers. This is especially beneficial for those who live in rural areas where there is a shortage of health care providers.
- No need to take time off: Online visits eliminate the need to request time off. You can simply schedule your visit before or after work or even during your break. Save those days off for when you really need them.
- No transportation costs: When you see your doctor during an online visit, you are saving money on gas, parking or public transportation. You also eliminate concerns about being late or missing your appointment and being charged as a no-show. Additionally, there is no pressure of having to rush to get back to work within a certain time.
- Reduced childcare stresses: If you don’t have to worry about taking time off of work or getting stuck in traffic, chances are there that you still have to stress about childcare. Finding suitable care for the kids so that you can go to an appointment can be costly and time consuming. Fortunately, telemedicine solves this problem by allowing you to see your doctor while taking care of your responsibilities.
- Eliminate the possibility of getting a new illness: Doctors’ offices are full of germs and sick people. Overcrowded waiting rooms are breeding grounds for several illnesses. By being seen from home, you get the care you need while avoiding the risk of exposure.
- Less waiting time: By choosing to utilize telemedicine technology, you are eliminating a lot of time wasted in a waiting room.
- Better health: When patients can see their doctors at their convenience, they are more likely to seek care and take better care of themselves. Patients can easily access doctors to address health care concerns quickly and learn about treatment options in minutes.
In some situations, telehealth can be especially useful.
- Primary care and urgent care where the health care provider is following up on a previous visit or checking in with the patient to determine whether direct care is necessary.
- If medications are needed, the prescriber may be able to send a prescription directly to your pharmacy.
Counseling and education
- Services that require counseling and education, such as prenatal care and diabetes management, can be easily accessed through telemedicine.
- Behavioral health services, mental health services and counseling are usually talk-based. These typically require no hands-on care from the health care provider, making these services especially well-suited to remote delivery.
- For people with severe conditions that require prescription medication, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, a routine check-in is often necessary. This can be easily availed at the comfort of your home.
- In the current COVID-19 crisis, a virtual doctor’s visit is a smart way to reduce the potential for transmission of infection. Many doctors and health care centers are offering remote screening options for COVID-19. Checking if someone needs the test or following up with people who are quarantining with mild symptoms is mostly about asking questions, which can be done well using the telehealth approach. Other health screenings, such as hearing tests for kids and cognitive testing in older adults, may also be offered remotely.
In addition to creating ease for busy families, telehealth has been shown to help overcome the obstacles related to availing health services, such as distance, lack of reliable transportation, a shortage of available health care providers and the inability to travel due to poor health. Telemedicine grew considerably between 2000 to 2020. At the same time, its growth has been concentrated in several specific areas and there is still a lot of room left for expansion.