When you’re sick, the last thing you want to do is get showered and dressed and drive to a doctor’s office.
That’s even more true now that illnesses like COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are going around. Well, now there’s a way you can see a doctor and get the medication you need without even leaving the house.
You can do it using telemedicine. Telemedicine takes advantage of video conferencing and other digital communications technologies to expand access to medical care. You video chat with your doctor, discuss your symptoms and get a prescription right away.
Telemedicine is particularly useful for managing chronic conditions, or treating things that you’ve had before and are familiar with, symptom-wise.
Here’s what you need to do to use telemedicine to get your next prescription online.
Find a Doctor that Offers Telehealth Services
To find a doctor that provides telemedicine services, you may have to look no further than your own primary care provider. Telemedicine has exploded in popularity since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic because it provides a way for doctors to provide care to more patients with less strain on resources and less risk to both doctor and patient.
However, you should check with your insurance if you want to learn how to get antibiotics and other prescription medications online. Most insurers will cover telemedicine services, but it’s always a good idea to check.
Many insurers will offer lower copays if you use telemedicine services, but some may want you to use a specific telehealth service that they partner with. Medicare coverage has been expanded to cover telehealth services, but Medicaid coverage for telemedicine visits can still vary from one state to the next.
Make An Appointment
Once you’ve found a doctor that performs virtual visits and takes your insurance, it’s time to make an appointment. You can use the practice’s patient portal or call the office. You’ll probably need to download an app or use the patient portal to access your virtual care. You’ll probably also have to sign Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) paperwork and other consent forms digitally.
Check Your Equipment
Don’t wait until your appointment time to make sure that your equipment works and that you understand the portal you’re going to have to use to connect with your doctor.
You only need a smartphone, tablet, or laptop to conduct a telemedicine visit, but you should make sure you have the app you need to install and that you know how to use it. Some doctors may be willing to perform virtual visits over a platform like FaceTime, but many won’t because it’s not as secure as using a patient portal or an encrypted telehealth app.
When it’s time for your appointment, you might have to wait in a virtual waiting room to see the doctor. When the doctor comes on, describe your symptoms in detail. If you have visible symptoms, such as a rash, take pictures and send them to the doctor during your virtual visit.
Be prepared to show the doctor your eyes or stick your tongue out, or perform certain parts of a physical exam yourself with the doctor’s guidance. For example, the doctor might have you press gently on different parts of your face to determine the source and severity of a sinus infection.
Be Prepared To Go In
Telemedicine is good for a lot of things, even for the treatment of some acute illnesses. But sometimes, especially when you’re seeking a diagnosis, you’re just going to have to go in. A lot of things just can’t be diagnosed over a video call.
Anything that requires a hands-on approach to diagnosis will require you to go in and see a doctor in person. If you need imaging tests done, or bloodwork, you’re obviously going to need to go in to get that done.
But just because the doctor might ask you to come in is no reason to shy away from telemedicine. A virtual visit can be enough to let a doctor know whether or not you need to be seen in person, and it can be a good way to get antibiotics or other medications, depending on what you’re seeking treatment for.
Even if you do get asked to come in, you’ll have done your best to minimize your use of medical resources at a time when the healthcare system is under immense strain.
If you’re sick and you need to get treatment in a hurry, going to the doctor virtually might be just the ticket. You can seek care without getting out of bed, and you won’t have to run the risk of spreading your germs around the doctor’s office. Try telemedicine the next time you get sick, and get the care you need fast.