Telehealth became one of the only methods for patients to connect with their providers during the shutdowns associated with the pandemic. When people weren’t able to get out to those ever-important appointments, telehealth made the connection. And now that individuals are venturing back out into the public, it seems telehealth continues to be a popular healthcare communication preference.
It’s a convenient and safer way to seek medical attention without experiencing the anxiety of a crowded waiting room. And many health insurance plans cover these virtual visits much like they would traditional, in-person appointments. If your interest has been piqued and learning more about how you can make the most of the rising telehealth movement sounds appealing, we’ll offer three ways to help you get started.
1. Coordinate with Your Providers
You likely already have trusted healthcare providers. But not every healthcare organization is prepared to accommodate virtual visits. A great first step to maximizing the telehealth benefits is to coordinate with you and your family’s providers. This will help you learn which of your chosen professionals offers telemedicine as an option.
Find Doctors Who Use Telehealth
Contact your general practitioner to inquire about his or her ability to offer telehealth visits. And these calls usually involve more than just having a video call. A healthcare organization that can truly offer telehealth will have key processes in place that allow professionals to make a diagnosis, recommend further testing, and document all conditions of these virtual calls. If your doctor doesn’t have telehealth capabilities, you might be able to find a provider within your network who does.
Find Specialists Who Use Telehealth
Telehealth has become popular among specialist providers, as well. Mental health professionals, niche practitioners, and surgeons are all embracing new virtual methods of communication with their patients. If you or someone within your household needs these specialty services, explore providers that can help virtually, that are considered in-network with your insurance provider.
Explore Your Insurance Plan for Telehealth Coverage
Before you start scheduling those telehealth appointments, you’ll want to be sure your chosen health insurance providers have virtual provisions. In addition to your potential requirement for in-network healthcare professionals, you’ll want to verify that telehealth appointments are also covered. Connect with your existing insurance company and ask about their guidelines for coverage of these remote healthcare visits.
2. Make Each Telehealth Visit Count
When you’re ready to schedule and attend your telehealth appointment, there are a few tips to consider. You’ll, of course, want to make the most of this conversation. And being prepared is just as important for the virtual connection as it is for the in-person appointment.
A Quiet Place to Connect
Look for a place to sit where you have a quiet and uninterrupted conversation. Limit any distractions from others, family pets, or background noise. You’ll need to be able to hear and see your medical provider clearly, too. So, look for a spot that offers ample lighting. And if you have to show your doctor something, like a rash or a swollen ankle, you’ll need to be in a reasonable position to do so in good light.
Have Your Questions & Topics Prepared
Treat your telehealth call like you would an in-person visit by having your questions and topics prepared. Know precisely what you want to discuss with your doctor. And have any subsequent questions about next steps, treatments, prescriptions, or follow-up suggestions handy, so you don’t forget to ask. It’s generally a good idea, too, to also have a notebook available to take notes during your conversation.
A Quality Connection & Device
It’s equally important to make sure that whatever device you use for your virtual appointment, the internet connection is strong. Use a quality device, like a laptop or computer, that has a good camera feature. Losing connection in the middle of your call won’t be fortuitous, and you’ll likely still be responsible for the visit in terms of payment or copays. Get your device set up a good ten minutes or so before your scheduled appointment time, allowing yourself extra time to troubleshoot technical difficulties.
3. What Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew About Telehealth
With the increased usage of telehealth, doctors are recognizing subtle pitfalls and setbacks in the process. To help you leverage the most out of your telehealth visit, here are a few things the professionals suggest. These are a few things physicians wish their patients knew about the telehealth method.
Having Someone with You
Some doctors strongly suggest patients have someone with them during their telehealth appointment. Having a neutral and trusted party with the patient can be helpful when discussing new or difficult topics. A spouse might be able to shed more light on a symptom or ask a question you forgot to write down. Two sets of ears can often be more productive than one.
Know When It’s Time for an Actual Visit
There are just some exams that can’t be performed online. And there comes a point in the healthcare journey that requires a more hands-on approach to medicine. Most doctors suggest that while telehealth is convenient, efficient, and affordable, it’s not always the best way to seek treatment. Identifying a lump, for example, might warrant an initial virtual visit. But should a biopsy or further assessment be required, you’ll have to schedule that in-person visit.
Be Patient & Expect a Few Kinks
There are a host of benefits to patients who can seek the help of a medical professional without leaving the house. But of course, there are always glitches and nuances that arise. Be patient with the telehealth process, especially when it comes to documenting patient data and recommending treatments. As with any new technology innovation, it may take time to see real improvements and more comprehensive results.
If you’re looking to tap into telehealth as a way to connect with your doctors, you’ll enjoy the many benefits associated with the virtual connection. But don’t forget to make sure that your providers and your health insurance is prepared, as well. And if you need to make changes, you still have time under the Special Enrollment Period order from Washington. You can browse available Marketplace plans with W3ll to calculate your premium tax credits, compare plans, and find the coverage perfect for embracing the telehealth movement.