Do you have itchy eyes, pain in your ankle, or even flu-like symptoms?
The COVID-19 pandemic might have paused the world for a bit, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have health issues to address. This is where telehealth systems come in!
Telehealth services are saving people trips to the doctor for routine visits or quick questions, and potentially saving lives by keeping people socially distanced.
Let’s dive into what telemedicine is, why it’s important, and when you should look at scheduling telehealth services instead of in-person visits.
Telehealth vs Telemedicine
You might see these terms used interchangeably, but they actually mean different things. Telehealth is a broader term used to describe the actual services and communication needed for the practice of telemedicine. Telemedicine refers to the practice of medicine, remotely.
The History of Telehealth Systems
While telemedicine seems like a brand new thing, it actually dates back to the 1950s when patients started communicating with doctors on the phone instead of traveling to an office. Imaging results could even be discussed over the phone, with the patient safe at home.
With the rise of the internet, telehealth has become a standard. While it used to be used mostly for rural parts of the world to improve healthcare access, it now is offered by most providers and incentivized by insurance.
Telemedicine appointments might be for something that’s just come up that you would typically go to an urgent care center for, or it can be your annual visit to a specialist like a neurologist. In some cases, a surgeon might schedule a telehealth visit after a procedure to check for wound infection.
In some cases, you may be able to use telehealth services to monitor an ongoing condition, like diabetes. With the proper tools like a glucose meter, you and your doctor can meet virtually to discuss your ongoing care.
Also included in the broader scope of telehealth services is mental health care. Online therapy has become popular in the last few years, and remote visits with therapists either on the phone or via video chat have taken off since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The Benefits of Telehealth Services
There are numerous benefits for both doctors and patients who use telehealth services. Evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment progress can all be evaluated, which are huge pluses.
Benefits for Patients:
- They can stay at home and don’t need to hire childcare if needed
- There’s no travel or transportation involved, which is beneficial if patients feel ill
- There’s no risk of disease transmission
- It saves time
Benefits for Practitioners:
- Fewer cancellations on the patient side
- Easy, upfront communication with patients without distraction
- More revenue
- It’s convenient
The Cons of Telehealth Services
There are cons to telehealth services that can dissuade some people from implementing these services in their medical practice or utilizing them as patients.
Cons for Patients:
- Can be tough if they aren’t good with technology
- It can be more expensive than office visits
- May not be a visit with your typical doctor, just someone who is available and doesn’t know your full history
Cons for Practitioners:
- Requires technical training for staff
- Requires secure technology for patient file storage and the capability to video chat securely (telehealth platforms)
Reasons to Schedule a Telemedicine Appointment
There are many conditions that can be diagnosed and treated virtually. There are a few types of telemedicine examples, see them below.
- Surgical follow-up appointments
- Chronic condition management
- On-off visit for urgent care
You might be surprised at how many urgent conditions can be treated virtually in real-time, or with a quick few tests done in-person (like scans or blood work) plus a telehealth visit.
In addition to the list below, if you have a flare-up of a familiar condition, like a urinary tract infection, and just need a prescription, telehealth is a perfect solution.
Conditions that can be treated via telemedicine:
- Cold and Flu Symptoms including gastrointestinal distress
- Skin conditions
- UTI or bladder infections
- Back pain
- Preventative medicine
Preparing For A Telemedicine Appointment
Follow these steps to prepare for your appointment so you have everything ready to go! Start by making a list of all of your symptoms and try to note when they started. Gather some equipment you might need, like a thermometer, a pen and paper, and even a smartwatch if you can track your heart rate.
Lastly, be sure you have all of the login information and virtual visit technology set up. Try logging in a few minutes prior to the appointment, just to be sure all the technology is working. Just as it is for an office visit, don’t forget to fill out any necessary patient forms prior to the visit!
What Is A Web Pharmacy?
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy estimates that 400 or so pharmacies in the United States function predominantly online. There is some growing concern that it’s almost too easy to get prescriptions without speaking to a doctor.
For these reasons, be sure to read reviews from the web pharmacy you’re using and avoid any consultations with a pharmacy affiliated doctor. Only use websites that require you have a prescription already from a doctor. Web pharmacies should only be filling the prescription you already have.
For example, Rx International has policies in place that only allow patients to fill prescriptions from their own doctors, who are licensed in the same state as the patient.
For more information on ordering prescriptions online and why it’s a safer, cheaper option, check out this post.
Telemedicine Is Here To Stay
Telehealth systems have proven their ability to adapt and serve a large population of people in the midst of a pandemic, and it’s likely that patients will continue to prefer remote care as much as possible.
For more information on the benefits of these remote health services, check out our blog. If your doctor is writing a prescription, consider using our web pharmacy for a cheap, effective option!