Telemedicine is on the rise. Of course, recently this is due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, but telemedicine has been a popular option for several years. (In 2018, the telemedicine market was already valued at $34.2 billion.) Read on to find out how telemedicine compares to an in-office visit, and when it may be a good option for you.
What is Telemedicine?
You may see telemedicine referred to by various names — virtual visits, telehealth, e-visits, or remote visits are popular terms. They all mean the same thing: healthcare from a distance, delivered through the use of technology.
With telemedicine, medical appointments may take place over the phone. More commonly, a virtual appointment is conducted with the use of an app or digital service that includes video conferencing capabilities. In this way, patients are able to interact with their healthcare provider in real time with face-to-face communication.
The Benefits of Telemedicine
1. It’s easily accessible — anytime, anywhere!
The biggest benefit of telemedicine is convenience. This is especially enticing in a world that never stops spinning, when it seems there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. To be able to pick up a phone or open up an internet browser and meet with a healthcare provider from the comfort of one’s own home saves time and hassle. No more driving to the clinic (whether that means battling traffic yourself or finding reliable transportation), no more trying to find childcare or work around the schedules of family members, and no more wasting time idly sitting in waiting rooms. Telemedicine also makes medical care accessible to those who generally have trouble getting it, whether due to geography or health limitations.
2. It keeps people safer.
As we’ve seen in the midst of a pandemic, another benefit of telemedicine is safety. Whether you are sick or whether you want to avoid the germs of others, telemedicine provides the ability to receive medical service without putting yourself or others at further risk of exposure.
3. It makes people better.
Telemedicine has also been shown to improve patient outcomes — simply put, people get better instead of worse. This is due to a few factors: for example, easy and effective follow-ups after a visit or hospital stay, up-to-date medication monitoring, and consistent management of chronic conditions.
The Limits of Telemedicine
Of course, everything has its disadvantages. Telemedicine is not the answer for all your medical concerns — specifically if a physical examination is necessary. A video conference may not be enough for a doctor to accurately make certain diagnoses.
Another disadvantage for some is that insurance companies may not fully cover telemedicine services. At the time of this writing, 26 states have laws requiring private insurers to cover telemedicine, but even so, this can vary by individual policy. The good news is that more insurers have started to encourage the use of telemedicine, so you may be covered for more than you think.
Telemedicine through In and Out Express Care
In and Out Express Care offers virtual visits to our patients in Hampton Roads, VA. We encourage our patients to take advantage of all our telemedicine service has to offer!
Who should use our telemedicine option:
- Those with non-emergent issues. If it is an urgent issue or an emergency, an in-person visit to our clinic or a hospital ER should be used instead.
- Anybody experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. To keep our clinics COVID-19-free, we will see anybody experiencing symptoms virtually.
- Those who have a device capable of video conferencing. Any smartphone, tablet, or computer with a working camera and microphone will do, as long as you also have a reliable internet connection.
Getting started with your telemedicine visit:
- To start, set an appointment for your virtual visit. Patients can click this link to set their appointment.*
- We will send you any patient forms that need to be filled out. We are able to communicate with you by text message if assistance is needed.
- Once you have the forms filled out, you will receive a link to log into your video appointment.
- The appointments are generally less than a half hour but duration will differ on a case-by-case basis.
- If we don’t currently take your insurance, be prepared to pay out-of-pocket with a credit or debit card over the phone.
What to expect during your virtual visit:
During your virtual visit, the doctor will:
- address your concerns and any symptoms,
- answer any questions you have,
- perform a visual exam,
- prescribe any medications,
- make further recommendations or referrals.
Telemedicine: An Extension of Traditional Healthcare
In-person doctor visits remain critical, and telemedicine can never fully replace them. Yet telemedicine also has its place and will only continue to improve in the future. Using both in-person and virtual healthcare options can lead to a better quality of life for many.
If you have a medical concern, contact one of our four convenient urgent care locations in Hampton Roads. We’d be glad to see you, whether in our clinic… or through your smartphone!
*Update, January 2022: In and Out is suspending our telemedicine service. Stay tuned for further updates, or call us with any questions.