Telehealth: Visit Your Doctor Without Leaving Home

Health Topics

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When an in-person visit with your health care provider isn’t convenient, a telehealth visit can be the perfect alternative. It’s a visit with your doctor via your computer, your cell phone, or another device that takes place while you are at home or another location.

Although telehealth has been around for years, it has become especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic when social distancing is necessary, explains Catherine Kiley, DO. “It’s also a great alternative for the elderly or anyone who has difficulty travelling to and from their doctor’s office.”

Telehealth visits also are popular alternatives to in-person visits with social workers, mental health and nutrition counselors, and anyone whose job it is to educate you about your health.

Dr. Kiley favors telehealth visits with patients who prefer meeting with her from the comfort of their home. “Those who aren’t familiar with videoconferencing devices may need assistance from another family member or friend,” she says. “But it can be ideal for many patients.” Dr. Kiley enjoys the ability to see her patients’ faces, which is possible during a telehealth visit, but not so during in-person visits when face masks are worn. 

Conditions Ideally Suited To Telehealth

In addition to patients who have difficulty travelling to their provider’s office, telehealth visits can be ideal for patients:

  • Who are sick and don’t want to spread germs to others in the doctor’s office
  • Who want to avoid potential germs at the doctor’s office (such as COVID-19)
  • With chronic diseases whose visit is intended to monitor their condition. “Talking about lifestyle changes, weight loss, diet, things like that, don’t really require an in-person meeting,” says Dr. Kiley.
  • With conditions that can be diagnosed by discussing symptoms, or by examining via a computer monitor (such as a skin rash)
  • Whose appointment is for counseling (such as nutrition, mental health)

Telehealth is not ideal for conditions like an earache, or a urinary tract infection, which requires a urine sample.

If you have an upcoming appointment, or wish to make an appointment, discuss with your provider whether your visit can be handled via telehealth, Dr. Kiley suggests. Your insurance provider typically will consider a telehealth visit the same as an in-person visit.

Preparing For Your Telehealth Visit

Before your appointment, ask someone at your doctor’s office to explain the steps to connecting with your health care provider. If you’re not certain you have the necessary electronic device for a successful visit, be sure to ask.

If you have a caregiver or someone who frequently assists you, it will be helpful for that person to be present during your telehealth visit, Dr. Kiley recommends. “Be prepared by jotting down any questions you may wish to ask, and be ready to take notes during the visit.”

Other Uses For Telehealth

In addition to virtual visits with your health care provider, “telehealth” is also used to describe:

  • Devices that allow your provider to remotely monitor things like your blood pressure, heart health, blood glucose, vital signs, sleep patterns
  • Communications through MyChart
  • Viewing videos to educate you about your condition, (e.g. how to use an inhaler)

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.