Telehealth and telemedicine allow patients to access quality health care when they have a hard time getting to a provider’s place of business. What began as a way for patients in rural areas to access doctors has become a way for anyone who is very sick or does not have reliable transportation to speak with a doctor without having to leave their home. Telehealth is a game changer that we can only expect more of in the future.
The term “telemedicine” refers to monitoring and diagnosis delivered through technology. “Telehealth” is the overarching term for health management and diagnosis as well as education that occurs digitally. Telehealth refers to anything from remote counseling and doctor check-ins to both consumer and professional education.
According to the CCHP (Center for Connected Health Policy), there are four main types of telehealth:
Live Video: A real-time interaction between a patient and a provider.
Store-and-forward: Recorded health (like x-rays and photos) forwarded to a specialist.
RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring): Medical data electronically sent to a provider for care and support.
mHealth (Mobile Health): Care and education via cell phone, tablet, computer, or PDA. Usually in the form of alerts or targeted text messages.
It’s always best to see a doctor in person, when possible. When a doctor can actually look at you, he or she can better perform a physical assessment. However, if you are unable to access a doctor in person, you can schedule an appointment with a digital clinic. There are more and more digital clinics available every year. For example, Maven is great for women’s health concerns (they can even prescribe birth control), while anyone can get a prescription filled with HealthTap.
There are certain circumstances where you will need to see a provider in person. For example, digital clinics are not allowed to prescribe controlled medications such as heavy steroids, painkillers and antidepressants.
More and more health plans are starting to add telemedicine and telehealth to their approved lists. Check with your plan to see if it covers telehealth. You can choose the pharmacy that your digital clinic sends your prescription to, so your prescription drug coverage will most likely still be relevant even if you receive your prescription digitally.
If you need help switching into a plan with telehealth coverage, give us a call.
We specialize in Medicare and health care for seniors. If you are over 65 and/or receiving Medicare, call 833-GET-ENROLLED (833-438-3576.