Getting sick is bad enough, and most of us can identify with the additional pain endured throughout the process of making and attending an appointment with a doctor. Traditional appointments might require us to leave home or work, endure traffic entanglements, obtain childcare or take children with us, and spend significant time waiting. Often the wait is the most difficult part, and we know that sitting in a waiting room exposes us to numerous other illnesses. Telemedicine aims to address all of these obstacles and more.
Technically, telemedicine is nothing new. It’s been around since the 1950s, in its earliest form, when patients learned that office visits were not always necessary. Depending upon the type of care needed, we could always call to speak with our doctor or a nurse over the phone. In many cases a prescription could be issued or advice given, without the need for an in-person appointment. Now we can accomplish those goals, and more, via telemedicine appointments with the added convenience of video calls.
Today, the need for remote access to medical services is more pressing than ever. As we continue to battle the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, most of us would rather avoid crowded and potentially infected waiting rooms! So the next time you need routine medical care, consider the benefits of telemedicine:
- No need to travel to a healthcare provider’s office
- No worried about childcare or time away from work
- Avoid traffic and other hassles
- Avoid potential contagions in waiting rooms
- Save time and money (telemedicine is priced lower than traditional office appointments)
- Faster and more convenient care
- Often reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid/Medi-Cal
A telemedicine appointment proceeds very much like any other doctor appointment. After virtually checking you in, a nurse will ask you about symptoms and other concerns you’re having. Based on your answers to these questions, a doctor will probably join the call and review your medication or treatment options. In some cases additional tests will be ordered, and you might offered an appointment for lab work.
Obviously, telemedicine should never be used for emergency situations, and you should call 911 or go directly to an emergency room in the event of a life threatening situation. But for everything else, contact your primary care physician about the option of telemedicine appointments to see if this type of care is right for you.