Telemedicine (also referred to as telehealth) is when medical professionals deliver clinical services through means of communication technology. There are typically three ways this is accomplished.
First, a healthcare provider can share your lab reports and medical imagery to a specialist in another location.
Second, specialists can track your vital signs from a distance.
And third, specialists can interact with you via live video chat through a telemedicine app. With telemedicine advantages, often comes telemedicine myths.
Here are some common misconceptions of telemedicine.
1. A physical exam is needed to diagnose me
This is perhaps the most prevalent concern patients may have. You probably think that a physical exam is necessary to diagnose and treat a condition, but you must remember that this isn’t possible for everyone. Not everyone has the opportunity to visit an in-clinic specialist, and so telemedicine comes to advantage, here. Typically, a specialist only needs your medical history and a list of symptoms to diagnose you, anyway.
2. It’s too expensive
If you’re worried about having to cash out your life savings, then think again. Telemedicine is cost-efficient because you’re not only saving commuting costs, but you’re saving time racking up in your medical bill by waiting in the waiting room.
Put it into perspective; if you have a chronic condition, you probably require monthly if not weekly doctor visits. You’re scrounging hundreds, if not thousands of dollars regularly, to see a specialist; especially if you don’t have insurance.
Telemedicine allows you to remain at home and skip the commuting costs and save time. All you need to pay for is the bill for the service you receive. Telemedicine has advantages for those with kids for this reason; you aren’t paying for extra childcare as you would if your in-clinic appointment ran late.
3. My information isn’t secure
You’re probably concerned about the security of your highly confidential information. We understand this concern and how important it is that you trust the process. We assure you there is nothing to worry about. Telemedicine doesn’t involve the use of mainstream technologies like Skype or Facetime but the use of platforms that adhere 100% to HIPAA policies, as in any regular doctor’s office.
4. My telemedicine doctor isn’t like a “real” doctor
The previous myth brings us to this common concern; that the doctor on the other end of your video chat is unlike your in-clinic doctor and won’t provide you with a proper diagnosis. This isn’t true. Any doctor providing a service of telemedicine is educated and certified to diagnose and come up with a treatment plan. They follow up with you accordingly to ensure you are receiving the best care possible and are satisfied with how things are going. They may also track your vitals such as send you heart rate tracking monitors to ensure treatment will work with current medical issues you may have. Your safety is their priority.
5. I can only receive telemedicine services if I don’t have immediate access to a clinic or hospital
This is not true. Anyone can use telemedicine. Yes, telehealth is more convenient for those who aren’t able to commute to a clinic, but that’s just an added advantage of telemedicine. If you use telemedicine, you have the opportunity to receive 24-hour care, and there is no limit to who can utilize this. You wouldn’t have to wait until the next morning to go to the walk-in clinic to get input on that stubborn cough, anymore, nor do you need to wait until you are home from a getaway to fill your prescription.
6. I won’t get to choose my doctor
You deserve to have as much control as possible when it comes to your health and confidential information. On most platforms, you can review detailed profile information about your potential doctor. This means that you will be able to choose from multiple board-certified providers and choose the one that is best suited for you.
7. My online doctor can’t write me a prescription
When your doctor makes a diagnosis and decides that the medicine is medically necessary, they can write you a prescription (provided it is legal where you live). This comes full circle to the myth that your doctor isn’t a “real” doctor. They are legitimate providers and have the authority to write you your prescriptions.
8. It can’t be covered under my insurance
This comes down to doing the appropriate research for where you live, but telemedicine can be covered by insurance. It is a growing service and is becoming as typical as in-person doctor visits and health services are beginning to notice this and are compensating by making it easy for you to get the care you need.
9. I can only use it for urgent care or as a last resort
You may think that you can only use an online doctor for sudden, unexpected issues. This is a myth. More people every day are taking advantage of telemedicine every day for chronic problems spanning respiratory problems to eye issues and are in it for the long term. You can be, too.
10. I need a physical exam to receive quality care
As explained earlier, a doctor doesn’t need to provide a physical exam to diagnose you. It’s not a necessity and does not affect the quality of care you would receive if you were to go to a clinic. The doctors all follow a protocol to ensure that after a consultation over the phone or video chat, they provide you with a concise diagnosis and accurate advice.
You can reap many benefits from telemedicine and telehealth. Download a free telemedicine app now and receive a free month of service.