Everything you need to know about seeing a doctor online

Lana Bandoim's picture
Visiting a doctor online

If you are curious about virtual doctor visits, then the following information can answer the most common questions. Seeing a doctor online is becoming more popular, so you want to become familiar with the process.

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Whether you are too busy to make an appointment with your regular doctors, or they cannot find room for you in their schedules, virtual doctor visits are an option in some cases. You can skip the long drive and busy waiting room by using telemedicine.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine allows patients to see doctors in a virtual setting through their computer, phone or other device. It usually connects patients with medical staff in real time and allows them to interact through video or phone calls. Medical professionals can offer advice, diagnose problems, suggest treatments and answer questions.

The adoption of telemedicine is an ongoing process, and it is growing in popularity. Research studies point out that telemedicine can improve access to care and enhance its efficiency. In addition, it can improve the quality of the care received in some cases.

“When properly implemented telemedicine can enhance care coordination across various providers, ensure continuity of care regardless of site, and enable on-site triage and prompt referral when needed. Patients can receive appropriate and timely care from an appropriate provider, whether locally or when determined to be suitable at tertiary-care centers, as indicated by their condition. Patients in remote or medically underserved locations can have ready access to clinical resources and can be monitored in their home environment. In many instances, telemedicine obviates the cost and time of travel to seek medical services while providing diagnostic expertise normally available in tertiary-care centers,” explains a study published in the Telemedicine Journal and e-Health.

How does telemedicine work?

Whether you have a question about diabetes or need advice about fibromyalgia, telemedicine can help. Although the process will vary based on the virtual clinic and providers, several features are common. After finding a virtual clinic or doctor who uses telemedicine, there is usually a sign up process on a website. You may also be able to download an app for your phone. Then, you will describe the symptoms and provide information about the medical problem. Next, a doctor will answer questions and give advice.

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“When you start your visit, you are connected to a Care Manager who will answer any questions you may have. The Care Manager will connect you to the Doctor for your visit. When your visit with the doctor is complete, you can review the care plan the doctor has created for you. Your Care Manager is still available to assist you in booking a follow-up, a referral to a specialist, sending any prescriptions to your local pharmacy or a partner pharmacy for free delivery, labs or other paperwork, and answering any questions you may have,” explains the Equinoxe Virtual Clinic.

Does insurance cover seeing a doctor online?

Depending on your insurance company, you may or may not have coverage for telemedicine. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Anthem Blue Cross have this option. However, you still have to check your individual plan. If your insurance does not offer this type of coverage, then you will have to make a payment. Some virtual clinics have inexpensive plans and multiple payment options.

Do you need a camera for seeing a doctor online?

Most virtual clinics and doctors who use telemedicine rely on cameras. Both you and the doctor should be able to access a phone or computer with a camera option. This makes the conversation and interaction easier. In addition, you are able to take photos of wounds or other problems and share them with the doctor. Seeing a doctor online is easier with a camera.

When should you see a doctor online?

In some cases, telemedicine is the best option, but this does not apply to every situation. During an emergency, you need to go to the ER or see a doctor immediately. However, telemedicine is convenient for general questions and advice about medical conditions that do not require an in-person exam. Experts suggest that telemedicine can be useful for colds, flu, allergies, minor strains and sinus infections.

Consider seeing a doctor online

The next time you are not able to make it to a doctor’s office, consider seeing a doctor online. Telemedicine is a convenient way to get access to medical professionals, so you can ask questions. It is affordable, quick and easy.

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