Every time you go to the doctor, it’s a time commitment. You must get to the clinic. Then you hang out in the waiting room until it’s your turn. Over the last couple of years, though, chances are you’ve talked with your doctor via phone or computer. COVID-19 didn’t launch telehealth, but it has definitely made it more popular.
Being able to talk with your physician at any time from any place offers some big advantages. Here are eight ways telehealth can help you as a patient.
1. Check for Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are more common than you think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are 20 million new STI cases every year. So if you have an STI — or think you do — it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
Getting a doctor’s appointment can be tough, though. You can get the answers you need with at-home STI testing. Collect a sample at home and send it off for testing. Usually within a week, a doctor will call you to discuss results and prescribe medication if you need it.
2. Manage Chronic Conditions
You don’t need to have a new issue or condition to benefit from telehealth. It’s a good option for long-term, chronic problems, too. Whether it’s diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, video or phone appointments let you talk with your doctor more often.
For example, talking to your doctor from home while looking at your prescriptions makes it easier to remember your medication questions. A telehealth visit can also help your doctor show you how to make diet and exercise changes in your home environment.
3. Talk It Out
If you’re stressed, sad, or just need to talk, telehealth lets you share your feelings from your own couch. If you live in a remote area, a video or phone appointment makes it easier to get mental health services. Plus it saves gas!
Telehealth visits are easy to work into your schedule. You can talk to a therapist from your car on your lunch break if you choose. Connecting digitally is also a great way to bring together people who live in different places. This can be extremely helpful if you’re involved in group or family therapy. You can get everyone in a session even if you’re not physically together.
4. Work With an Expert
Maybe you don’t have an existing relationship with a primary care doctor. Maybe you live in a rural location far from a specialist who can handle your health needs. If either is true, telehealth can get you into the doctor’s office.
Lots of online networks can give you round-the-clock access to specialists who can listen and provide expert advice. These visits are easier to schedule with fewer wait times. They also save you the time and money you would potentially spend on travel to see a specialist.
5. Avoid Other Illnesses
We’ve all been in the waiting room with someone who’s coughing or sneezing. Going into the clinic for an appointment puts you at risk for picking up other types of virus. Catching the common cold or the flu is bad enough. With COVID-19 being the biggest concern for the past two years, avoiding others who are sick is even more important.
Opting for a video or telephone appointment lets you sidestep the waiting room risk altogether. If you’re not at the clinic, you can’t bring any infections back with you. Not only will telehealth keep you healthier, but it will also protect anyone else you live with.
6. Skip the Sitter
Getting to the doctor when you have other responsibilities can be tricky. If you’re taking care of small children or elderly parents, leaving them alone isn’t an option. A babysitter or an adult companion you trust can be tough to find, and it can be expensive.
Scheduling a telehealth visit eliminates the need to coordinate this type of care. You’ll be able to talk with your doctor from home and still be available for any in-the-moment needs that arise. These video and telephone visits make it easier for you to take care of yourself while you’re caring for others.
7. Stay at Work
Your work days are busy and taking time off for a doctor’s appointment can put you behind. Plus, getting time off approved can sometimes be a hurdle. Finding a way to work your visits into your daily schedule can be beneficial.
Telehealth gives you the option to plan your visits early before you get busy or at the end of the day. Looking for a lunchtime appointment? No worries. Simply close your office door, log into your appointment, and talk to your doctor during your midday break.
8. Save Time and Money
Unless you work for a hospital or health system, getting to an in-person doctor’s appointment will require some resources. You’ll need to take time off work, navigate traffic, and potentially pay for parking.
Choosing a telehealth visit will save you both the minutes and money invested. You’ll log into your appointment less stressed and better able to concentrate. That way, you’ll have a more engaged, productive conversation with your physician.
Seeing your doctor for annual visits or new problems is just as important as it’s always been. Long delays in the waiting room were once the norm. Now you have options. You can choose a phone call or a video appointment on your smartphone or computer. Whatever you select, telehealth keeps you on top of your medical needs.