Telemedicine isn’t new, but it’s more important now than ever. There are many ways to video-chat with a medical professional online. Beyond providing advice and information, doctors you consult online can even write prescriptions and doctor’s notes.
How Online Doctor Visits Work:
There are many different services for talking to a doctor online. Your health insurance company likely recommends one of them. These services generally aren’t free, but you’ll often just have to pay a small co-pay with insurance. If you don’t have insurance, you can still use them for a fee.
Telehealth services are legitimate services offering access to real doctors. You video-chat with a medical professional using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. You generally don’t have to make an appointment in advance.
Some situations need hands-on care, but video visits will let a doctor give you advice or a treatment plan online in many situations. Online doctors can even send prescriptions for medications to your local pharmacy, which is something that would normally require a trip to see a doctor in person. However, while online physicians may prescribe antibiotics and anti-allergy medications, they won’t prescribe narcotics and pain medications.
Beyond prescriptions, online doctors can often issue lab tests. You’ll have to go to a lab location in person, but you can skip the doctor’s office. An online doctor may also be able to write a doctor’s note for you if you need one for work or school and your situation requires it.
If you’re concerned you might have COVID-19—or you’re just concerned about picking it up at the doctor’s office while heading there for another reason—a virtual visit is a great way to talk to the doctor without putting yourself and others at risk. That’s why the CDC, the World Health Organization, and many health insurance companies are recommending telehealth services to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Some are even waiving co-pays for telemedicine services.
Even if you don’t want to talk to a doctor right now, it’s worth doing a bit of quick research and finding out what online doctor service you would use if you ever need one. You probably don’t want to do that research when you’re already feeling under the weather.
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