Covid-19 has upended our world, and it has changed the way we run our daily lives. Recently, new regulations were relaxed when it comes to telehealth services for seniors in an effort to prevent both sick and healthy Americans from going to their doctors office in person and spreading the virus.
As of March 6, you can temporarily waive certain Medicare requirements for telehealth services. This is great news, since it means that seniors with chronic conditions can call their doctor on Skype or Facetime, for example, to check in versus making the trek to the doctor’s office. It’s a great way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and avoids putting older patients who may be more vulnerable to the virus at risk.
And even if you don’t have Medicare, your doctor’s office likely has some type of telehealth program in place at the moment. At the very least, a call to your doctor before you go in for an appointment can help determine if your appointment can be handled remotely or not.
So, what can you expect on a telehealth visit?
It’s really going to look a lot like a normal visit. You’ll have an appointment where you’ll call in and videochat with your provider. Your provider will review your medical history, just like always, and then talk to you about anything you’re experiencing.
While there are obviously limitations to what your provider can do over the phone (they can’t do X-rays or listen to your lungs, for example), they can get a good picture of what you’re going through from your verbal descriptions, as well as how you look. It may be enough for them to give you a prescription, make follow up appointments, or, if they think it’s needed, ask you to come in to the office.
The use of telehealth has been skyrocketing since the coronavirus outbreak, a trend that we may see continue well into the future as telehealth becomes more accessible and easier to use. Many insurance companies, which use to charge a higher copay for virtual care, are now waiving the copayments, making telehealth an easier process than ever before.
How Do I Make The Most Of A Telehealth appointment?
Again, it’s very similar to an in-person appointment, with a couple of exceptions. You need to be better prepared, and you need to be very detailed in your discussion. Remember, your doctor doesn’t have the benefit of doing his or her normal checks and tests through a computer screen. They may be able to notice any visible symptoms (especially if they are looking for COVID-19 symptoms like a cough or trouble breathing), but they can’t take your blood pressure or temperature, listen to your heart rate, or any of the normal things they might do. They will need to rely on you, more than ever, to be specific in describing your symptoms and voicing your concerns.
There are a few ways you can help. Before your appointment, write down any symptoms you’re having, as well as any specific questions you might have for your doctor. When talking to your doctor, be as detailed as you can. This also isn’t the time to be shy. It may always be a little embarrassing to discuss certain conditions with your doctor, but without the benefit of them seeing you in person, it’s really up to you to bring things up and to cover the things that are bothering you.
How Do I Contact A Telehealth Service?
If you need to see a doctor, first, call your own if you have one. They may have a telehealth program already in place, and seeing your own doctor who knows your medical history is best, especially when conducting a virtual appointment.
But, if you don’t have a regular doctor, there are other private companies that can connect you virtually with a doctor online. Check out the links below to find one that can help you get your health back on track. Keep in mind that with the rise in telehealth within just the last few weeks, some wait times may be longer than normal as companies work to address the expanded demand.
Take advantage of these new laws and relaxed regulations for telehealth to stay at home, and stay healthy.