Whether you need to renew a prescription for a chronic condition or get antibiotics for a new infection, telemedicine has made it easier than ever to see a doctor and get the treatment you need. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere, telemedicine can give you access not just to the closest providers, but to specialists in other parts of the country altogether. More and more doctors are using telehealth services now to treat patients without risking the spread of the COVID-19 virus or other respiratory viruses that are going around this winter.
If you need to get a prescription online, the first thing you’re going to want to do is find a provider who offers telehealth visits, which isn’t that hard these days. You’ll need to schedule your appointment through the portal that provider uses, and make sure you’re familiar with the technology you’ll need to use for your virtual visit. Be prepared to describe your symptoms in detail, and even to go in if your doctor can’t make a diagnosis over video chat.
Find a Telehealth Provider
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to find providers that offer telehealth services. Your own primary care provider or local urgent care probably offers virtual visits. However, you should verify that your insurance provider covers virtual visits before you schedule one. Most do, and many even offer cheaper co-pays for telehealth services. Medicare now covers some virtual visits and Medicaid may cover virtual visits in some states.
However, some insurance companies do require members to use a specific telemedicine service that they partner with. These services, like Teladoc or Plushcare, provide access to real doctors for virtual visits, online prescriptions, psychiatric care and mental health counseling, and urgent care. They can also walk you through how to get antibiotics from a doctor online when you need them.
Schedule Your Appointment
If your primary doctor or other local provider offers virtual visits, you can probably schedule one by calling his or her office. If you’re using a telemedicine service like Plushcare, you can schedule your appointment through their patient portal or website. Either way, you’re likely going to have to download an app to have your virtual doctor visit – things like FaceTime aren’t secure enough for the exchange of medical information. Your doctor will want to use a secure patient portal for video conferencing, emailing, and other communications instead.
Familiarize Yourself with the Technology
Don’t wait until it’s time for your appointment to open the app. Some require you to create a profile and login credentials. You’ll also need to know where to go in the app to access your virtual connection with the doctor. Familiarize yourself with the technology well before your allotted appointment time. Make sure you can get into the app you’ve been given and that you know how to sign into a virtual appointment.
Be Prepared to Describe Your Symptoms
Your doctor won’t be able to see you in person to peer into your ears or palpate your lymph nodes, so he or she will rely heavily on your own description of your symptoms to diagnose you. It can help to write down your symptoms ahead of time so you know you won’t forget anything important when you’re talking to the doctor. Make sure you describe your symptoms clearly. Be prepared to show your doctor any part of your body where symptoms are visible, especially your eyes, face, and tongue. You should take pictures of visible symptoms to send to the doctor during the virtual appointment.
You Might Need to Go In
Your doctor may decide, based on your video chat and the symptoms you present, that you don’t need to come into the office to get a more in-depth exam. In that case, you’ll get your prescription and get on with recovery.
But there’s a chance your doctor may decide that you need to come in for further tests. Your doctor might want to order X-rays or other imaging procedures, or bloodwork. If that’s the case, you’ll have to go see a doctor in person. Before you schedule a virtual doctor visit, it might be worth considering whether you can get treatment for your condition without seeing a doctor in person. If it’s a chronic condition or something you’ve had before, then you can probably get by with a virtual visit. But if you’re having new symptoms, an in-person visit might be warranted.
You don’t need to go into a doctor’s office every time you get sick these days. With telemedicine, you can see a doctor from the comfort of your home – and that’s a big relief when you don’t feel well. So schedule a virtual visit for your next appointment, and find out how easy going to the doctor can be.