August 06, 2020
The impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has rippled through all of society. The term “social distancing” has entered popular lexicon, and it’s changed how people think about dining out, grocery shopping, and even neighborhood gatherings.
Fortunately, technology is making healthcare easier than ever. For example, wearable technology can now transmit information on your heart rate and body temperature to physicians located elsewhere. Many healthcare providers are empowering patients by allowing them to easily view medical records and test results through online portals. And now, telemedicine is becoming a vital resource that offers patients broader care options, more frequent appointments for chronic diseases, and lower healthcare costs.
Telemedicine is the use of communication technology to provide healthcare remotely. It’s a secure and convenient way to speak with your physician or receive care when you aren’t able to make an in-person appointment. It also allows you to maintain health care access while on vacation, watching children at home, or balancing work commitments.
If you’re considering a telehealth appointment in lieu of a physical visit to the doctor’s office, the first thing to consider is “what type of care do I need?” Telemedicine works very well for general health care, getting prescriptions, dermatology, counseling (such as nutrition or mental health), and urgent care conditions, such as rashes or infections.
Even more so than during a physical visit, communication with your health care provider is essential. You’ll need to be prepared to discuss your symptoms or the reason for the appointment clearly and specifically. Writing this information down in advance can help you avoid leaving out any important details.
If the virtual visit requires sharing images or medical records, it’s important to make sure your computer, smartphone, or tablet has a strong Wi-Fi connection and a camera in case a visual examination is needed to make a diagnosis. Before speaking with your doctor, give some thought to where the virtual appointment should take place. A private, quiet space with plenty of light is ideal.
Overall, you can expect a telemedicine appointment to feel like a traditional in-person visit. The advances that have already occurred in telemedicine are significant, making it an increasingly important component of your healthcare experience. As social-distancing protocols continue, 2020 is the ideal time to try out this health care resource. Independence Blue Cross has expanded telemedicine coverage during the COVID-19 outbreak to increase access to care. Independence members can access telemedicine options here.