5 Things to Know About Telemedicine
Seeing your doctor online or talking with them over the phone from home may seem quite different at first compared to your average appointment. Once you begin interacting with your doctor and receiving treatment, you’ll find that the overall process is still very similar.
“It was really, in some ways, very different than a normal doctor visit,” says Clark, “but in other ways, it felt completely normal.”
Consider these four major differences between telemedicine and traditional medicine before deciding which option is best for you:
Seeing a doctor remotely is very convenient compared to going to a doctor’s office. You can set up a virtual exam, consultation or therapy session from home and you don’t have to leave the house when it’s time for the appointment. That also means that you won’t be exposing your doctor to your illness nor coming in contact with other patients.
2. Wait Time
With telemedicine, you can typically be seen within minutes of making your appointment, unless there’s a period of high demand. Outside of urgent care, traditional doctor’s offices typically won’t be able to offer you same-day appointments.
If you don’t have insurance, telemedicine is typically going to be a more affordable option compared to an in-person visit. Several telemedicine companies also accept insurance and/or payments from HSA or FSA plans.
The biggest drawback of telemedicine is the communication barrier. Technology can only carry us so far, and there’s simply some medical care you can’t receive remotely. Your doctor will only be able to make decisions and provide guidance based on what you tell or show them.
Finding an Online Doctor
As telemedicine increases in popularity, more options are becoming available for you to connect with a doctor online.
If there’s a doctor familiar with your medical history that you visit regularly, you may be able to contact his or her office directly to set up a telemedicine appointment. “Right now, I think they’re really fans of it,” Clark says of family doctors. “If you have a doctor, he or she may be willing to do a telemedicine kind of thing.”
Depending on your needs, your doctor may be willing to schedule a call or video chat in place of an in-person visit. Aside from your primary physician, here are five places to schedule a telemedicine appointment:
This online service is available 24/7 to connect you with a doctor via live video in minutes, assuming it’s not during a period of high demand. The company accepts insurance, but without it, medical visits have a flat rate of $75 and therapy starts at $129.
This is another company able to connect patients with physicians for virtual exams. While the cost varies, CareClix does accept a variety of insurance plans.
Teladoc offers consultations with doctors, therapists and medical experts via phone or video. The cost of an appointment varies based on your health plan and the type of care you’re seeking. Everyday care appointments are available for $55, mental health appointments begin at $90 and dermatology consultations are $85 per doctor review.
This virtual clinic offers a free consultation to get started and allows you to submit written questions, request a phone call or interact using online video. For the best pricing, you can choose from a variety of service subscriptions beginning at $79 for six months.
This company provides easy access to doctors from your home using the web, mobile apps or the phone by calling 1-844-SEE-DOCS. You can see the wide range of insurance plans that are accepted by Amwell here. Otherwise, a standard visit costs $69.
Overall, telemedicine will never completely replace the hands-on care you’ll get from an in-person visit with your doctor. Still, for common ailments, medical advice and simple prescriptions, it can provide a more convenient and contact-free way to see your doctor.
Clark says, “I think through this process people will become more comfortable — both medical professionals and patients — in situations that are more routine, going for a visit on their phone than going for a visit in person.”
He wraps up his reflection on the experience by saying he found he got everything that he needed from the appointment.
If you’re thinking about using telemedicine to meet with a doctor, check with your insurance provider first to see if you’re eligible for coverage. Then, talk to your primary doctor about remote appointment options or sign up for a telemedicine service like those listed above.