Whether you need treatment for an acute illness or need to manage a chronic condition, going to the doctor online can save you time and money and help you avoid a trip to the doctor’s office. That will save you transportation costs and minimize your exposure to contagious diseases, including COVID-19.
Telemedicine is getting popular, even as COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in many places. These days, most doctors are offering telemedicine appointments to their patients, and if you can’t get in with your regular doctor, there are lots of on-demand telemedicine services available, too. You just need to be familiar enough with the technology to do a video call, and you can get treatment for a lot of minor ailments without even leaving the house.
Book an Online Doctor Appointment
If you’re interested in trying telemedicine, the first place to go is to your doctor. Your doctor probably offers telemedicine appointments and might even be willing to turn an in-person visit that you already have scheduled into an online visit.
If you can’t get any online appointments with your regular doctor, you can use an on-demand telemedicine service. There are several on-demand urgent care services, like Plushcare, Doctor on Demand, and Teladoc, that allow you to book an appointment immediately. On some platforms, you can even get in to see a doctor 24/7.
Get Your Technology Ready
Telemedicine technically refers to all of the ways doctors might use modern communications technology to deliver better treatment to their patients. That means telemedicine includes phone calls, emails, and texts as well as video calls. But if you’re attending a virtual doctor’s appointment, that means that you’re going to be on a video call with the doctor that will switch to a phone call if your connection goes bad.
So, you should have video conferencing technology at your disposal. A tablet, smartphone, or laptop is ideal. If you’re using an app to video conference with your doctor, or need to use a patient portal, like FollowMyHealth® or MyChart, make sure you know how to use the app and can access the video calling function. Take everything for a test run before your appointment – make sure your camera, microphone, and speakers work, and that you’ve worked out any kinks with the technology you need to use.
Find a Good, Private Spot
You’ll only have a limited time with the doctor, so you’ll want some quiet and privacy in order to have your appointment. Find a good, comfortable, private spot in your home where you have a strong cellular data or wifi signal. Turn off the TV or radio. Tell your kids to go play outside. You need to be able to focus on the doctor.
Communicate Clearly with the Doctor
Before your appointment, it’s a good idea to sit down with a pen and paper and write down all of your symptoms, so you can communicate them to the doctor without forgetting anything. Jot down any questions you want the doctor to answer.
If you have visible symptoms, like a skin rash, take some pictures to send to the doctor – you might be able to upload them somewhere in the app, or email them to your doctor beforehand. Communicate clearly and don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself. If you think you have a sinus infection and you need to know how to get antibiotics online, tell your doctor what you think is wrong and ask for the medication you need. Your doctor will be able to send the prescription to your pharmacy.
You Might Still Need to Go In
Even though the whole point of seeing a doctor online is to avoid going into the office, you still might need to go into the office. Doctors can diagnose and treat many minor ailments over a video connection, but sometimes they need to take a throat culture, or a blood sample, or an X-ray.
These things obviously need to be done in person. And if you use an on-demand virtual urgent care, the doctor you see might advise you to follow up with your primary care physician. However, you may be able to perform the follow-up visit online, too.
Going to the doctor online makes it more convenient than ever to get the medical care you need. You can see a doctor at any time of the day or night, and get the treatments you need to start getting better. The next time you get sick, give telemedicine a try.