How virtual doctor visits help keep your health on track during COVID-19
Since mid-March, much of the U.S. has had to find new ways to adapt to life in a pandemic. We’ve found creative solutions to continue work, school and social gatherings — often times remotely.
The same goes for medical care, especially during a time when staying as healthy as possible is critical. Enter telemedicine — a way to visit your healthcare provider remotely from the comfort of your home.
“Although telemedicine isn’t new, it’s become the ‘new normal’ for receiving many types of medical care and having visits with your doctor — virtually,” says Dr. Jeanne Gricoski, a primary care physician at Geisinger Orwigsburg.
Telemedicine: A new way to visit the doctor
Telemedicine (also called telehealth) lets you meet with your doctor from the comfort and safety of home. From prevention and well visits to mental health to managing chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure or heart disease, use your visit to discuss symptoms with your provider and get the care you need.
Here’s how it works.
Telemedicine uses video chat technology, similar to FaceTime or Skype, to connect you to your doctor in real-time.
Using a secure network, a board-certified doctor will advise, treat and diagnose you exactly the same way they would in a traditional office appointment — only in a live video visit.
“With a telemedicine visit, everything is safe and private,” explains Dr. Gricoski. “Your doctor can access your medical records for review and interpretation before and during your visit.”
What conditions can I see a doctor for through telemedicine?
Virtual medical visits are used for a wide variety of common illnesses and injuries, including:
- Cold and flu
- Sinus infections
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Aches and pains
You can also see a specialist
Telemedicine visits are available for a variety of specialties, including cardiology, endocrinology and orthopaedics. Click here for a full list.
“Thanks to technology, we are able to treat many conditions virtually,” adds Dr. Gricoski. “That also includes anxiety and stress, which for many patients, has been amplified during the pandemic.”
Less traveling, less waiting
With a telemedicine video visit, you’ll pre-select your appointment time, so you’ll know exactly when you’ll connect with your provider.
Booking a telemedicine visit means less time spent in a waiting room and more time back in your day. It also means no travel or having to find a spot in a crowded parking lot.
Why wait to see your doctor in person when you can see them sooner through telemedicine — and while practicing physical distancing? You can even stay in your pajamas.
All you need is a:
- Smartphone (iPhone or Android)
- Tablet or computer with a webcam and speaker
- High-speed internet connection
1:1 time with your own provider
In challenging times, feeling connected to your healthcare provider can provide a sense of comfort. You want to feel seen, heard and that you’re talking with someone who understands your physical and mental health history.
“Whether you make an appointment with a provider you already have a trusted relationship with or are a new patient, your telemedicine appointment is your time to discuss your concerns or long-term health goals — just like you would in a normal office visit,” says Dr. Gricoski.
Telemedicine: What to know
Having a virtual doctor visit is easy, and it’s changing the way you see your doctor. But there are a few things to know.
- Telemedicine isn’t for emergencies – Use telemedicine for routine visits or for non-urgent illnesses or injuries. For urgent injuries or conditions, such as a heart attack, a telemedicine visit isn’t appropriate, and you should go to the emergency room.
- Your visit happens in real-time – Visits take place over video chat or over the phone, and you talk to your doctor in real-time, without a delay.
- Your insurance will likely cover the visit – Most insurance carriers cover telemedicine. If you aren’t sure about your coverage, call the phone number on the back of your insurance card.
- It’s HIPAA-compliant – Your telemedicine visit is private and confidential, just as it is during an in-office visit.
- Your doctor can access your information (and store it for later) – Your provider can store any information relevant to your care, including test results for reference and access later.
- You can manage your care online – If you’re a Geisinger patient, message your care team and access medical records (and your child’s too) online through the MyGeisinger patient portal. You can also download the MyChart app for easier access.