What Is Telemedicine? 3 Reasons Why You Need Telemedicine During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Apr 19

Telemedicine is coming—in fact, it’s already here. Tens of thousands of Doctors around the country are integrating telemedicine services into their practices and prioritizing this in-demand service.

Telemedicine is essentially a consultation with a Doctor  over your computer or smartphone where they can talk to you about your symptoms, possibly diagnose your condition or write you a prescription, or refer you to another provider or specialist for additional services.

While telemedicine has been around for a long time, with the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) hitting the world hard and forcing millions of Americans to stay in their homes for extended periods of time, telemedicine has become one of the primary resources for Americans to receive basic healthcare, as recommended by the CDC and the President’s Coronavirus Task Force.

How Telemedicine Works

Generally, telemedicine costs, at the most, the same amount as a normal doctor’s visit would cost (if you have insurance). You pay your normal copay and have your appointment either on your smart device of choice or on your computer. Sometimes the copays for telemedicine services can be significantly lower than for an in-person visit.

If you don’t have insurance, some providers will be able to offer discounts if you schedule a telemedicine appointment, but in most cases, you’ll need to sign up for a low-cost telemedicine healthcare plan (these are not insurance plans and rather offer you great discounts on a variety of medical services).

In most cases, you’re able to see the Doctor via video, and the Doctor can see you, though you have the option of not using video and just talking to your Doctor.

While all telemedicine services vary, here are a few of the types of appointments you may be able to make:

  • Coronavirus, flu, cold, or allergy appointments (usually your medical care provider does not need to see you in person to discuss your symptoms or recommend treatment or testing)

  • Medication management appointments (when needed to get refills on ongoing prescriptions or change dosages)

  • Psychiatric appointments

  • Follow-up appointments after surgeries or initial coronavirus/flu/cold/allergy appointments

  • Appointments to receive test or lab results

  • Ongoing appointments to manage chronic illnesses (like diabetes or high blood pressure)

  • Follow-up appointments or medication/appliance management with dentists, eye doctors, or hearing doctors

There are many other possibilities, and there are also many benefits to telemedicine, especially now that many Americans are forced to stay home during the pandemic.

Here are 3 reasons why you need telemedicine during the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Avoid Waiting Rooms and Other Ill Patients During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

One of the biggest reasons telemedicine is expanding rapidly right now is the coronavirus pandemic. Waiting rooms are notorious breeding grounds for new illnesses.

Because of how contagious coronavirus and other diseases can be (the cold or the flu), simply going to the doctor and sitting in a waiting room can put you and others at risk. You might give other people whatever you’re sick with, and you might catch whatever they have.

Even if you practice social distancing in the waiting room, there’s still a chance you could pick up the illness from one of the healthcare workers or from objects in the waiting room that someone has coughed or sneezed on.

By scheduling a telemedicine appointment instead, you stay out of waiting rooms that could make you even sicker, and you avoid the possibility of spreading your illness to others.

2. Save Time and Money

One of the most obvious reasons that people love telemedicine is that it saves them time and money.

For most people, going to the doctor is an ordeal that usually costs them money in some form, even when you take copays and other costs out of the equation.

Depending on how you’re accessing telemedicine services, the appointment itself may cost less than an in-person visit.

Because you’re not driving to the appointments, you save money on transportation costs, which can be a substantial hurdle if you don’t have a vehicle or can’t easily leave the house. Even if you have a vehicle and have no trouble making it to appointments, you’ll save money on gas.

If you work full-time, you know how difficult it can be to get to a doctor’s appointment. You either have to sacrifice a day of work and lose income, or you put off the appointment and sacrifice your health.

Telemedicine allows you to complete appointments quickly from anywhere, so you can schedule your appointment for a lunch break or work with your employer to find a time where you can take a quick break for your appointment.

And because you’re not traveling to the appointment or sitting in a waiting room until the provider is ready, you’re saving a lot of time. In many cases, you simply log into your app or computer and wait for the provider to log in. Even if they’re late, you can work on other things while you sit there (instead of staring at magazines in a waiting room).

3. Access Specialists More Easily

For many patients, getting access to a specialist can require long car rides or even plane rides. Depending on where you live, the nearest specialist that you need to see may be so far away that it’s just not financially feasible to reach them.

This can lead to serious health problems if you’re suffering from a severe disease that needs to be evaluated immediately. Telemedicine gives you fast access to specialists, even if they’re on the other side of the country.

While you will have to make an appointment like normal and may have to wait a few days or weeks to talk to the specialist, you don’t have to get a plane ticket or drive for hours to see them, saving enormous amounts of time and money just on transportation alone, not to mention the fact that you won’t have to take time off work.

Learn More About AmeriPlan’s Telemedicine Services

Access telemedicine services today. Click to learn more about how telemedicine works for our members and how much you can save.