This article was first published in the HaPi Guide in October 2019. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, this content has been updated to reflect today’s environment, and may be helpful when it comes to navigating these challenging times.
You’ve probably heard the term “telemedicine,” but you may not be familiar with what it means. Put simply, telemedicine gives you access to virtual medical and behavioral health visits, via phone or video chat, with licensed health care professionals. Instead of traveling to see your doctor and sitting in a crowded waiting room, you’re instantly connected using your computer, tablet or smartphone for a visit, without putting yourself at risk for exposure to COVID-19.
Telemedicine has quickly moved from being a helpful tool to a vital channel for our health care system. Virtual visits with health care professionals may help limit the spread of disease, and can also be an option for individuals who are following social distancing guidelines to check in with a health care provider. But, perhaps most importantly, if you have concerns related to COVID-19, you can connect with a health care provider from home to determine whether you need to see a doctor or be tested.
“By using virtual care for much regular, necessary medical care, and deferring elective procedures or annual checkups, we free up medical staff and equipment needed for those who become seriously ill from COVID-19.”*
Today, it’s more critical than ever that you take steps that don’t put you at risk. And telemedicine is a smart solution that can help you avoid unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office, urgent care, or the ER. From live video conferencing to remote monitoring, there are many ways to make telemedicine work for you. Watch this video for some ways to use telemedicine that you may not have thought of, and read on below for even more.
25 Ways You Can Use Telemedicine
- Discuss symptoms such as a fever, cough, or shortness of breath
- Put a plan in place with a health care professional that addresses how and where to seek help or testing
- Remotely follow up with your PCP after an initial visit
- Manage nausea and vomiting from your home
- Get immediate treatment and advice for minor conditions like sinus infections
- Assess hives and rashes
- Manage urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections
- Get help managing migraines
- Get support for joint pain
- Assess minor injuries (scrapes, cuts, etc.)
- Refill allergy prescriptions (such as epinephrine autoinjectors)
- Refill birth control prescriptions
- Check in with your doctor to manage a chronic illness
- Review and discuss multiple medications all at once with your doctor
- Ask about which generic medications are safe for you to use
- Schedule (or reschedule) non-emergency appointments with your health care team
- Consult with a lactation specialist after giving birth
- Check in with a provider after outpatient surgery
- Get support to stop smoking
- Get support for recovery from addiction
- Speak with a mental or behavioral health professional from the privacy of your home
- Learn stress management techniques you can use anywhere
- Get screened for common mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
- Talk with a therapist if you’ve experienced a miscarriage
- Meet with a family counselor for marriage or family counseling
Not sure whether your provider offers telemedicine services? Many states have asked health plans to extend their coverage and access to telemedicine services for their members during this time. Visit our site to see how Harvard Pilgrim is handling coverage for its members.
Check your symptoms
Use the CDC’s Coronavirus Self-Checker chatbot if you think you or someone you’re caring for may have symptoms of COVID-19.
Schwamm, “Can telehealth help flatten the curve of COVID-19?”
Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, 2020