In the age of COVID-19, many health care facilities are leveraging telehealth and telemedicine, allowing patients to pay a virtual visit to their doctors. While not a substitute for all types of medical visits, telemedicine is a great option for many medical needs. It reduces contact between health care providers and patients and follows social distancing guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What is Telemedicine?
Telehealth and telemedicine are not new and have been used by patients in remote areas for distant health care services for years. Telemedicine is the use of electronic devices or software to deliver health care services to patients at a distance. In other words, it is the use of smart devices to pay virtual visits to doctors and keep up to date with your health and well-being. Telemedicine is used by doctors to provide care, advice, and education to their patients. Diagnosis, wellness checks, prescription refills, and follow-up care may be conducted virtually. Telemedicine is also being used for monitoring patients with possible coronavirus symptoms and other illnesses, and in the management of chronic diseases.
Telehealth and telemedicine are used interchangeably but in fact, telehealth is a broad term that covers the technologies used to make telemedicine — the practice of delivering care at a distance — possible. Telemedicine refers to clinical services while telehealth covers non-clinical services.
The Convenience of Telemedicine
The convenience of being able to receive health care services anywhere you are has made telemedicine demands skyrocket in recent months. Here’s a guide on how to use telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Check your insurance. Not all insurance providers cover telemedicine visits, and for those that do cover telemedicine, there may be limited coverage. Check with your insurance provider for this information. Ultimately, telemedicine visits come out more affordable because you do not need to spend on transportation, take time off work, and arrange for childcare. Telehealth services related to COVID-19 may be free under Medicare’s expanded coverage.
Set up the technology. As a patient, you only need a smartphone or a tablet and reliable broadband or cellular connection to pay a virtual visit to your doctor. Computers, phones, and tablets are now set up to do video calls. The experience is similar to a traditional visit minus the traveling and physical contact. Your doctor will ask questions, make observations, and have a detailed discussion of your symptoms. For better long-term care, you may be asked to take your temperature, measure your heart rate, and check your blood sugar during the visit. You can do all these things at home if you have the right equipment.
Schedule the visit. Medical practices usually have an online account or a toll-free number for patients to request a visit. Some will ask you to download an app or send you a link to click on for your appointment. It varies from practice to practice. Before you can schedule a visit, you may be asked to fill out a form describing your symptoms to see if you qualify for a virtual visit. Call up your clinic for help with setting up a virtual appointment.
Telemedicine in Fort Worth, Texas
For all the convenience it offers, telemedicine is not suitable for every situation, and your primary care provider will schedule an in-person visit or refer you to a specialist should you need it.
At Texas Medical Institute, we make telemedicine available to our patients. If you have questions or need help with setting up your virtual visit, call (817) 615-8633 or use our online request form to schedule your visit.