With many people practicing social distancing, telehealth is more common than ever. Rather than putting off seeking care when you’re sick, telehealth can be a helpful tool to receive care while staying safe.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is virtual health care, or care you can receive without physically going to a doctor’s office or clinic. If you have a phone, tablet, or computer that has internet and a camera, you have what you need for telehealth.
Types of care you can receive
You can usetelehealth for many illnesses. You may even be able to talk to a therapist or psychiatrist if you need mental health care.
Here are some conditions you can use telehealth for:
- Pinkeye and other eye infections
- Sinus infection
- Sore throat
You may even be able to fill some prescriptions using telehealth.
When and how to use telehealth
Many doctors and providers now offer telehealth. If you are sick during regular hours, you can call your doctor’s office to ask if they have telehealth visits as an option.
You may also choose to use telehealth if:
- Your doctor’s office is closed for the day.
- Your doctor’s office is not scheduling appointments due to COVID-19.
- You are unable to leave your house.
- You are not having a medical emergency, but need care before you can see your primary care provider (PCP).
Keeping your relationship with your PCP is important. If your PCP is not available, telehealth is a good option. Telehealth should not replace regular visits with your PCP. Most telehealth visits are covered for members. You can find other telehealth options at telehealth.hhs.gov.
If your doctor does not offer telehealth, Empire BlueCross BlueShield HealthPlus members can use LiveHealth Online for no-cost, virtual care. Create your free account at livehealthonline.com.
Tips for using telehealth
You can do a few things to ensure you make the most out of your telehealth visit.
Before you start:
- Find a location with a good internet signal.
- Make sure your device is charged.
- Find a comfortable place to sit by a power source.
- Reduce background noise.
- Find a well-lit area.
- Prepare to take notes.
- Have a list of your symptoms and any medicines you are currently taking.
- Know the location of the closest in-network pharmacy to you. You may need to have a prescription sent there.
- Write down your questions, such as:
- If or when you should follow up with your regular doctor.
- When your symptoms should start to improve.
- If you are contagious and for how long.
People are using telehealth more and more to connect with health care providers. It is a safe option if you are nervous about going to the doctor or when your regular doctor is not available. Don’t delay care. Consider telehealth as an option for your next visit.