Telehealth is a promising public health tool because of its potential to significantly increase access to health care for underserved populations. It is widely believed that it can reduce healthcare costs and improve health outcomes overall.
Telehealth — sometimes called telemedicine — is the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to provide care when you and your healthcare provider are not in the same place at the same time. To participate in a telehealth session with a provider, you need to have a phone or a device with internet access to get medical care or services through telehealth.
Types of care you can receive through telehealth
You might be surprised by the variety of care you can get through telehealth. Services such as medication management and online counseling are particularly suited to telehealth, as consistent and regular visits improve outcomes. Your doctor will decide whether telehealth is right for your health needs. If you need care, it is worth checking to see what your telehealth options are. You may meet with a doctor in real-time to discuss:
- Lab test or x-ray results.
- Therapy and online counseling.
- Recurring conditions such as migraines or urinary tract infections.
- Skin conditions.
- Prescription management.
- Urgent care issues such as colds, coughs and stomach complaints.
- Post-surgical follow-up.
Doctors may ask you to
- Send blood pressure, blood sugar or other condition monitoring information.
- Send images of how a wound, eye or skin condition is healing.
- Document symptoms.
- Request medical records that have been sent to another doctor.
Your medical provider can send you information such as
- Notifications to remind you to do rehabilitation exercises or take a critical medication.
- Encouragement to stick with your treatment plan.
- New suggestions for improving diet, mobility or stress management.
- Detailed instructions on how to continue your care at home.
Telehealth is growing in popularity because of these benefits
- Limiting physical contact reduces everyone’s exposure to COVID-19.
- Visiting virtually can address health issues wherever patients are, even from the comfort of home.
- Using virtual health care tools can shorten wait times to see a provider and expand the range of access to specialists who live further away.
Telehealth is not a perfect fit for everyone or every medical condition. Make sure you discuss any disadvantages or risks with your doctor.
Source: Health & Human Services, hhs.gov