What is Telemedicine and How Can it Keep You Safe During COVID-19?

It feels like COVID-19 is the most significant health risk we are all facing this Spring, which is why it’s easy to forget that millions of Americans are still experiencing minor illnesses and injuries from sprained wrists, to sinus infections, to rashes. With significantly strained healthcare facilities becoming ground zero for the battle against COVID-19, many Americans in need of other minor treatments are fearful of a trip to their local urgent care or doctor’s office.

To provide a safe way for patients with minor injuries and illnesses to interface with their provider, without leaving home or increasing their risk of being exposed to a COVID-19 patient, healthcare providers across the nation are offering telemedicine services. Read on to learn why telemedicine is just as reliable as an in-office provider visit, and how it can help minimize your risk of COVID-19

 

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine services are similar to the services our patients receive in our clinics, except, they are provided in patients’ homes via an app or web browser. Using digital technology, patients and healthcare providers can see and speak to one another.

 

For What Types of Health Concerns is Telemedicine a Reliable Option?

You can make a telemedicine appointment for such mild injuries and illnesses as:

  • Allergies
  • Annual wellness visits
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic conditions if you are an established patient on a recurring treatment schedule
  • Cough or cold
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fever
  • Flu
  • Follow-up consultation to imaging or lab work
  • Migraine or headache
  • Medication refills
  • Pink eye
  • Sinus problems
  • Urinary tract infection

You should see a healthcare provider in-person, or seek emergency care if you are experiencing:

  • An injury that requires hands-on care
  • Abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain

 

Can a Provider Prescribe Medication via Telemedicine?

Yes. During a telemedicine appointment, your provider may prescribe or refill many common medications.

 

Does Health Insurance Cover telemedicine?

Individual insurance plans may not cover telemedicine services. However, insurance coverage is evolving rapidly in response to Federal and State emergency proclamations addressing COVID-19 (coronavirus). Many insurers are adding coverage for telemedicine services. Talk to your insurance provider and ask if your current benefits plan includes coverage for telemedicine.

The Medicare Chronic Care Management Program is a national policy that does not currently restrict patient use of telemedicine. Medicaid reimbursement varies based on state. To determine if you have Medicaid coverage for telemedicine services, call your Medicaid office.

 

Is My Personal Health Information Secure?

Telemedicine appointments are subject to HIPAA compliance, which means your provider must offer you a secure technology service with which to transfer health information and conduct your appointment. Not every video conferencing services, such as FaceTime or Skype meets HIPAA compliance standards, so if you have any questions about security, talk to your provider’s office.

 

What are the Benefits for Me if I Choose Telemedicine?

Patients who seek telemedicine care benefit from:

  • Time efficiency—no need to take time off from work and drive across town to your doctor’s office
  • No travel expenses
  • Total privacy—you conduct your appointment from the privacy of your home
  • Safety from COVID-19 and other contagious viruses during the shelter-in-place mandate and other peak illness seasons

 

Is Telemedicine Technology Easy to Use?

Telemedicine technology is designed to be easy for all patients, regardless of their technical expertise. If you have concerns about being able to successfully use the necessary technology, ask your doctor’s office if it offers a helpful guide for patients.

 

Will Telemedicine Still be Available After COVID-19?

While many healthcare providers have implemented telemedicine to address their immediate need for caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not a new or temporary technology. Healthcare industry experts anticipate that telemedicine will continue to be a common choice for patient care long after we beat COVID-19.

Nova Health is now offering telemedicine services focused on treating new and existing patients for many common ailments. Telemedicine is available 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Click here to schedule an appointment.

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