Digital health care is here to stay

Telehealth —health care provided virtually using technology such as video calls — is not new, but its use has skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many people needing health care while in lockdown, telehealth provided a lifeline. Today, it’s become a mainstream service offered by most providers, with usage that is 38 times higher than it was pre-pandemic.

Why use it?

Telehealth is:

  • Convenient — Saves you time and hassle; dedicated telehealth doctors are available 24/7, 365 days a year, often without any wait time
  • Affordable — Typically costs about the same as an in-person visit, depending on your medical plan coverage
  • Comfortable — Spares you from traveling to an appointment when you aren’t feeling well or are out-of-town
  • Safe — Helps control the spread of contagious diseases

What’s it for?

Telehealth is now being used for many different needs, including

  • Acute care for common medical issues, from colds/allergies to ear or eye infections
  • Dermatology
  • Mental health counseling and psychiatry
  • Maternity, postpartum, and pediatric care
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Substance-use treatment
  • Chronic disease management (like high blood pressure or diabetes)

When should you use it?

Telehealth is a great option when you or your covered family members need non-emergency care in these types of situations:

  • It’s after hours (nights, weekends, holidays)
  • You don’t feel up to going to the doctor’s office
  • You’re traveling/away from home
  • You want the convenience of a virtual medical or behavioral health visit

Take advantage!

  • Check with your medical plan or look for telehealth information in this website to see how telehealth visits are covered.
  • Register with your medical plan’s telehealth provider ahead of time so you’ll be ready when you need care in a hurry.
  • Review your telehealth provider’s appointment guidelines. For general acute needs, doctors are usually available right away, without an appointment. For certain types of specialty care, you may need to request an appointment in advance. Don’t forget to test the camera and sound on your computer or mobile device beforehand.
  • Ask your doctor’s office if virtual visits are offered; this may be another convenient option, in addition to the services offered by your medical plan’s telehealth provider.
  • The next time you or your family member needs medical attention, think about your options. If it’s a non-emergency issue that could be diagnosed by phone or online, telehealth may be your least expensive option.
Sources:

“Telehealth Is Here To Stay — Long After The Pandemic,” Forbes (forbes.com), November 2, 2021
“Preparing for a Virtual Visit,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (telehealth.hhs.gov)
“A Fresh Perspective on Where Telehealth Will Settle,” American Hospital Association (aha.org)
“How to Take Advantage of Telehealth and Digital Medical Care,” Insider (insider.com), March 26, 2020