Updated: Nov 4
Telehealth has long been a means to provide health care in remote areas. Lately, it has been included as a benefit in employer plans and Medicare plans. What began as an incidental benefit has evolved into an extremely important way of delivering health care-- especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Its Wikipedia listing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telehealth) defines telehealth this way:
Telehealth is the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. It allows long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions.
Telehealth gives us the ability to meet with a doctor, nurse, or other medical specialist to discuss health concerns and get access to diagnosis and treatment. Prescriptions, referrals, and opinions can all be provided via a telehealth service.
Some telehealth techniques, such as the iPhone’s Facetime feature and services like Skype and WhatsApp, enable patient and provider to talk together as if they were in the same room. Email or messaging tools allow the patient to leave a message that will be answered as soon as the provider is available. Patients can also attach pictures or information to aid in diagnosis. Other tools allow for remote electronic monitoring of a patient’s health status.
With the Covid-19 Pandemic stretching medical resources, telehealth offers a powerful tool in helping people access care while following stay-at-home guidelines. Similarly, the “reverse 911” capability to broadcast important messages to telephones and cell phones helps improve responses to changing conditions.
If you are not feeling well and are concerned about the seriousness of your condition, telehealth is a great way to be in touch with a nurse or doctor who can make a preliminary diagnosis and direct you to needed care or treatment. Call your doctor or the Member Services number on the back of your health insurance ID card to find out how to can make use of the telehealth services included in your plan and added during the COVID-19 situation.
Best Wishes and Be Safe.
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