Convenient and Easy Virtual Care Day or Night
Virtual doctor visits have been available for some time, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, use of this tool has soared. Stay-at-home orders during the lockdown played a huge role, but other factors are also speeding up the adoption of telehealth.
Historically, there’s been an expectation that patients and physicians need to by physically together in order to get the best possible care. But as technology has become embedded in our daily lives, we’ve become more open to using it for medical care. The development of straightforward apps and videoconferencing tools that make it easy to receive virtual care securely also has increased its use.
Another boon to telehealth: the growing number of medical monitoring devices available for home use. These can be used by patients to collect data that’s transmitted to a physician’s office, expanding the usefulness of virtual visits. Examples include blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors, pulse oximeters and wireless scales.
Virtual visits are popular with patients because they offer many benefits, including the convenience of being seen at home or at the office, which results in very little time away from family responsibilities or work. Being seen virtually also eliminates the need to drive to and from the doctor’s office and spend time in the waiting room.
Given all the advantages, it’s easy to see why this new way of receiving care has taken off.
Benefits of Video
Being able to see each other offers several advantages that lead most doctors and patients to prefer video visits to phone calls. For example, if a patient has a sore throat, she can show the doctor the back of the throat and tonsils. Problems like cuts, rashes and swollen feet also can be shown. Patients who can’t remember the name of a medication they’re taking can get the bottle and show it to the doctor. In addition, being able to see and read each other’s expressions improves communication and, in some cases, helps doctors assess patient health.
It’s important to note that a visit can begin as a video or phone call or an e-visit and then become an in-person appointment if necessary. If you aren’t sure what the best course of action is, call your physician’s office, tell them what’s going on and they’ll help determine the best type of visit.
During the early stages of the pandemic, Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurers expanded their coverage for telehealth. The situation is evolving, so check with your carrier, but it’s expected that coverage for telehealth will continue and expand.
When to Use Telehealth
Minor medical issues and many chronic conditions, including congestive heart failure, diabetes and asthma, often can be managed through a virtual visit. Doctors can make a diagnosis, recommend treatment and prescribe medication, if necessary, for many medical issues, including:
- Arthritic pain
- Colds and ﬂu
- Insect bites
- “Pink eye” or conjunctivitis
- Respiratory infections
- Skin inflammations
- Sore throats
- Sprains and strains
- Urinary tract infections
- Other non-emergency conditions.**
*Adult patients only
**Some conditions may be adult only
How to Set Up a Virtual VisitTriHealth offers three ways for patients to consult with a doctor without going to a practice in person.
- Established patients can arrange a virtual visit by calling their doctor’s ofﬁce—the staff will help you make an appointment.
- Patients who have a TriHealth MyChart account can set up an e-visit, which uses MyChart’s secure messaging. After logging into MyChart, select e-visit and complete a symptom questionnaire. If submitted by 4 p.m., you’ll receive a recommended course of treatment the same day via electronic message from a TriHealth provider. For a list of conditions that can be treated with an e-visit, see www.trihealth.com/tools/mychart/e-visits.
- Those who are new to the TriHealth system can set up a virtual visit through the TriHealthNow app, which can be downloaded for free. After enrolling, simply request a consult, provide medical history and pay a ﬂat fee of $49 for the visit. Receipts are provided and can be submitted to insurers for possible reimbursement.
Below are a few things to think about before a virtual appointment:
- If you need an interpreter, let your physician’s ofﬁce know ahead of time.
- Be sure the device you’re using (phone, tablet, computer) is fully charged or plugged in.
- Make the call from a well-lit, quiet room and turn off other electronics to enhance the quality of the video and audio.
- Set your camera at eye level to provide the best view for your healthcare provider.
- Be aware that there may be lag time during your video visit. It’s helpful to pause brieﬂy after your provider speaks before responding.
- In advance, write down your symptoms, when they began and how frequent they are, and list any medications you’re taking.
- Keep a pen and notepad handy to take notes during the visit.