Telehealth and telemedicine are two words that are typically used interchangeably. However, they aren’t the same thing. Telemedicine is about providing clinical services, while telehealth encompasses both clinical services and non-clinical services that can help improve your health.
Telehealth and telemedicine allow patients to get the care they need while remaining comfortable at home. It also helps hospitals reach patients in remote locations. Thanks to technology, telehealth has evolved to be used in a variety of ways to promote health and wellbeing.
What to Consider Before Switching to Telehealth
Let’s face it: you don’t like leaving the house when you don’t have to. Instead of going through your entire beauty routine just to go to the doctor, you can meet with your physician in the comfort of your own home.
Telehealth offers tons of benefits, but there are factors you should consider before switching from in-person visits.
- Your Technology Proficiency
If you’re someone who uses an app for everything, then switching to telehealth will be easy. However, if you’re not adept at using your cell phone or home computer for simple tasks, such as making a video call, then telehealth might not be for you. If you struggle with technology but are still interested in telehealth, have a family member work with you to improve your proficiency with apps and computers.
Depending on how you’ll be using telehealth, learning technology will be simple. For example, if you’re going to be working with an online weight loss coach, then you’ll only need to learn how to contact them. Similarly, if you’re monitoring your heart rate with a smartwatch and an app, you’ll need to learn how the watch and app work.
In many cases, telehealth can be more cost-effective than in-person healthcare. For example, a personal trainer will typically be less expensive because they won’t be required to come to your home to work with you. However, when it comes to telemedicine, you can expect similar pricing unless your insurance covers telemedicine differently than in-person medical visits.
To be on the safe side, make sure your insurance covers telemedicine so you won’t get stuck paying out of pocket.
Many people worry with all of their information available online they don’t have the same security they would with hard copies or files. The truth is all of your records in hospitals and your doctor’s offices are now digital. While they might still carry around documents, your records are backed up in secure online files.
When it comes to other telehealth applications, like weight loss apps or online coaching, you’ll need to make sure the company you use protects your data. While any business can fall victim to hackers, most are after your credit card information instead of your personal health information. That being said, all of your information needs to be protected, so make sure you use a telehealth company you trust.
- Human Interaction
There are many situations where someone might feel more comfortable seeing their doctor or mental health provider in person. Similarly, there are some services your doctor provides that require you to be there in person, such as medical exams, drawing blood, and more.
Before you switch to telehealth, you’ll need to determine your level of comfort in giving up the in-person level of human interaction you’re used to. For example, if you have bloodwork done, you may only get a call from your doctor’s office, or you’ll get a notification that your digital chart has been updated.
There are many instances where you won’t have to meet with a doctor to get a prescription. For example, in the past, women have had to visit their OBGYN to get a prescription for birth control. Now, they can order birth control online by answering a few questions about their health, and a doctor will prescribe the medication without scheduling an in-person visit.
As mentioned, you may be able to have some medications e-prescribed. However, most states require you to have a doctor-patient relationship, which might include an in-person physical exam before a doctor can prescribe you medication online or in person.
Most people already have an existing relationship with their doctor, but if you don’t, you’ll need to find out what you need to do so you can start getting prescriptions virtually prescribed and sent to you. In some cases, you can establish a doctor-patient relationship by answering a questionnaire online so you can obtain medications for weight loss and other health concerns.
Clinics and hospitals are cleaned frequently for a reason. While a hospital might be cleaner than your room, it doesn’t mean you can’t get sick. Most people only go to the doctor when they aren’t feeling well, so anyone you see in a doctor’s office might have a cold, the flu, or something worse. If you’re someone who wants to avoid getting sick at all costs or getting someone else sick, you can choose telehealth instead.
Telehealth eliminates the risk of you getting sick from someone at the clinic while reducing the risk of you spreading any illness you have to another person. If you only need to visit the doctor for a follow-up, ask if your appointment can be virtual so you can avoid potentially getting sick.
- Emergency Care
Telehealth is not meant to replace the emergency room. If you have a health emergency, then you should visit your nearest urgent care as soon as possible to avoid further complications. For example, if you break a bone, there’s no reason to schedule a telehealth appointment. Instead, you’re better off going to the doctor as soon as possible so you can be taken care of and healed.
Switching to Telehealth
When you’re feeling under the weather, going to the doctor’s office may seem daunting. Telehealth can help you avoid putting more stress on your body when you’re already not feeling well while providing you with the same quality of care you would get in a clinic. Telehealth isn’t for every type of patient, though. If you’re someone who wants a more personal experience when speaking with your healthcare provider, then there’s no harm in having an in-person visit.
Marné Amoguis holds a B.A. in International Business from UC San Diego. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing. Outside of writing, she loves traveling, playing music, and hiking.