June 16, 2019

Perks of Telemedicine

Updated December 7, 2022

Why a virtual visit can be better than an in-person doctor appointment

Doctor appointments can be expensive and time consuming. Over the past several years, a faster, more convenient way to receive medical treatment has been gaining in use: Telemedicine, also known as telehealth. It has now become routine for patients to reach doctors and nurses through videoconference at low cost and less of a time commitment.

Virtual Doctor visit via computer - Telemedicine

Widespread access to smartphones and the internet makes telemedicine more available and practical than ever. As more businesses and individuals become educated on the benefits of telemedicine, the word is spreading.

One such provider is MDLIVE, a virtual-visits vendor associated with Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance. Jordan Bradish, agency vice president at Bradish, first began using MDLIVE’s telehealth services several years ago and remembers being impressed by how easy and convenient it was. Within ten minutes of requesting a physician, he received a call back from a doctor. Telemedicine is offered 24 hours a day and has doctors ready to speak with you whenever.

Skip the waiting room

“Getting to see a doctor the traditional way can be a bit more of a challenge. Your doctor may not be in that day or too busy to speak with directly, but telehealth skips all that and gets you meeting with a physician right away,” Jordan said. Telemedicine does away with waiting rooms and is available when you need it.

Telehealth vendors often partner with health insurance companies, as in the case of MDLIVE. And for good reason: virtual visits offer an inexpensive alternative to visiting doctors in person. Small ailments and noncritical medical and pediatric care issues are easily treated with the aid of telemedicine.

Virtual visits can also be helpful in managing chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and weight management. But to be clear, telemedicine is not meant to address emergencies and serious pain.

Connect via video technology

Telemedicine appointments involve you and a doctor discussing your symptoms and irritations using FaceTime (or another videoconferencing platform such as Facebook Messenger video chat, Google, Zoom or Skype) or phone call. A video chat allows the doctor to get a good look at you, helping to determine what exactly is wrong with you. Using your phone’s camera, the doctor may have you hold it up to your eyes, mouth and ears to check for symptoms.

As mentioned above, telehealth cannot adequately address larger problems such as emergency health issues. Another drawback can be the lack of professional setting, which some users may find unsettling. You are speaking with a person on a cellphone or at your computer, not sitting in a nice doctor’s office or a hospital room. However, the speed and convenience of virtual visits should not be overlooked.

Despite the “unprofessional” setting of telemedicine appointments, it is still a professional doctor diagnosing and treating you, and the visit is private. The telemedicine system allows you to avoid expensive urgent care centers when your doctor is unavailable, for example, or if you are traveling and need to see a doctor.

Convenience, affordability can’t be beat

The convenience of a virtual visit allows you to reach doctors at any time and receive treatment for low cost. Treatable conditions include cold and flu, coughs, earaches, sore throats and more. In addition, you can receive needed prescriptions, which are sent to your local pharmacy. Costs may be lower for services not covered by your insurance, as well.

If you are interested in telemedicine, check with your insurance company to see if they offer it. You will need to create an account and/or download the app from the vendor, such as MDLIVE or others. You will also need to provide some basic information and medical history on their website, before requesting your first visit. Telehealth is an innovative and effective way to treat small ailments conveniently and less expensively.

by Jack Mainellis