Medical Bills • 3 minute read
Telehealth: Staying Healthy While Staying Home
By Mason Frenzel
Published by Ruby
Ruby's online tools and app helps you organize your medical bills and save money.
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Although we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and quarantined in our homes, that doesn’t mean we don’t still have health issues we need to see our doctors about. But what do we do when medical facilities are limiting the number of people coming in and out, and the idea of going to one may make us a little nervous anyway?
What if there was a way to communicate with your doctor or continue your routine checkups from the comfort of your own living room? Well, it turns out, there is. It’s referred to as “telehealth,” and thanks to modern technology, more and more doctors and patients are taking advantage of it.
Telehealth is the use of electronic communications, like a phone call, email, text, or computer video, to have a virtual health care visit with your doctor. According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, telehealth can be used in a variety of health care fields, including, but not limited to: dentistry, counseling, physical therapy, and home health.
If you want to communicate with your doctor through telehealth options, here are some tips to help you get started!
1) Check with your doctor.
There’s a lot that doctors can do for you online and over the phone. The first thing to do is contact your primary care doctor and ask if they provide virtual assessments. If you wake up one morning with a fever and sore throat, for example, would you be able to call your doctor for a consultation right then and there?
2) Emergencies are still emergencies.
Telehealth is not a substitute for calling 9-1-1 in an emergency. Talk to your doctor about what symptoms are appropriate for a telehealth appointment and what symptoms may be more serious and require immediate attention.
3) Prepare for your virtual appointment.
Having specific details or questions about your health on hand before your appointment will help your doctor help you. Here are a few things to consider when getting prepared:
- Make a list of symptoms, so you can be sure you tell your doctor everything that’s on your mind.
- Keep track of when your symptoms started and when they’ve changed.
- Take photos of visual symptoms and track them. For example, if you have a rash of some sort, use photos to show your doctor how it’s spreading.
- If possible, gather any health equipment you may have before your call. Your doctor may want to know things such as temperature, weight, and for patients with diabetes, blood glucose levels.
4) In some cases, office visits are still necessary.
Preventative procedures such as Pap smears, colonoscopies, and mammograms can’t be done over the phone. If you and your doctor agree it can wait, it might be best to put those off until after the pandemic resolves.
Health situations that are a little more complex, will probably still require an office visit as well. If your doctor needs to check your vital signs, for example, that can’t be done via telehealth.
While many of us may feel safer staying home these days, it’s important that we don’t ignore health symptoms just to avoid going out. If it’s something you would normally go to the doctor for, telehealth may be a creative solution to make sure you’re still getting the care you need. Ruby can help you be prepared for telehealth appointments or medical emergencies when you create your Medical Information Kit. Learn more!