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Virtual doctor’s visits: How telemedicine works and booking your appointment

Telemedicine is pretty much what it sounds like — a medical appointment or a place to get medical advice, over the phone. But in today’s modern world of technology, it means through video chat.

Though a doctor can’t touch you through your computer, you can still get a lot out of a telemedicine appointment. Things like advice and diagnoses, and even treatment options. Tap or click here for help finding a telemedicine doctor.

With the pandemic, many doctors are only using telemedicine right now. We have tips on how to get the most out of a telemedicine appointment, from the software and tech you need for it, to what to tell your doctor. Read on to find out more!

Telemedicine software and apps

There are a ton of video chat apps out there — tap or click here for a list of some of our favorites. Telemedicine can take place on a few of them, but most doctors prefer to use specialized video software and apps that follow HIPAA privacy guidelines.

This is for a patient’s well-being, as well as ensuring all medical advice and treatment stays confidential. Different providers will use different applications, but they all are held to the same security and safety standards and are safe to use.

All of the software allows video and audio calls between doctors and patients, encrypting the feeds as they occur. The software your doctor prefers to use may depend on the insurance their office takes, as well as the insurance you have.

Here is a list of some commonly-used telemedicine apps, and what insurance they take, so you can get an idea of what software you might be using at your telemedicine appointment:

  • CareClix – Oasis Insurance, Freeway Insurance and others, though you can also pay with cash.
  • Teladoc – Aetna, BCBS, Cigna, Health Net, United Healthcare and many others.
  • MeMD – FSA, HES and HRA accounts, and you can also pay with debit or credit cards.
  • iCliniq – You can purchase a subscription to use this service.
  • Amwell – Aetna, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Beacon Health, Cigna, Emblem Health, iCare, Medica and others.
  • MDLIVE – Network Health.
  • Doctor On Demand – Medicare, Humana, United Healthcare and others.
  • StatDoctors – See Teladoc above.
  • LiveHealth Online – Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Empire Blue Cross Blue and Shield.
  • Virtuwell – Aetna, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, EssentiaCare, Human, Medica, Preferred One and others.

The tech you will need

To have the best telemedicine call possible, you’ll want it to be a video chat. For that, you’ll need a few pieces of technology, on top of your doctor’s preferred video chat software.

What you need most is a smartphone, a tablet, or a computer. Many of these devices already have cameras and microphones built into them, which is all you really need to have a telemedicine appointment with a physician.

If you have an older laptop or a desktop without a built-in camera, you can buy a webcam to use for telemedicine video calls. If you don’t have a built-in microphone either, a headset that plugs into a computer can often take its place.

Here is a popular webcam with microphone option. This webcam is easy to be used by just plugging it with the USB 2.0 cable to the computer. Then it displays excellent video, no need to install a driver to make it work. With the help of flexible clip, you can put this webcam on a laptop, desktop PC, smart TV, or just put it on the table.

A headset can also be helpful if you want to make sure you hear everything your doctor says during a telemedicine call, and to make sure you’re heard well. Tap or click for ways to make phone calls from your computer.

Beyond that, you’ll need to be able to reliably connect to the internet, which you can do via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, depending on your preference and setup. If you’re using a smartphone, data can work too — just know, video calls eat up data fast.

Once you have the above, you’ll be all set to have your first telemedicine call! Check out the next section to see what you should do during the call to make sure you get the most out of it.

How to get the most out of a telemedicine appointment

A telemedicine appointment isn’t so different from a regular doctor’s appointment in content. It just has a different setup. Check out the steps below for getting the most out of it:

  1. First things first, you have to schedule a telemedicine appointment before you have one. Check out your physician’s website, call their office, or do a Google search for the practice to see how to make a remote appointment.
  2. When you make the appointment, your doctor or their office should tell you what software you need. Again, this software depends on what insurance you have, or just what the doctor prefers.
  3. Make sure to download the software in advance and set up your account on the service at least an hour ahead of your appointment. You don’t want to eat up valuable appointment time deciding on a password!
  4. Speaking of passwords, make sure the one you use on your telemedicine software/app account is a strong one. Your medical information is important and should be kept as private and secure as possible.
  5. Have your computer, phone, or tablet set up in a private place too so you don’t have to worry about eavesdroppers, and so you can be candid with your doctor without being self-conscious.
  6. You’ll likely be placed in a digital waiting room before your doctor logs in to the telemedicine service, and accesses your meeting. Don’t worry about it; find a way to entertain yourself close to where you’ll be doing the meeting.
    • It’s also possible you’ll be kept busy by filling out a survey on how you’re feeling. Be very honest here, so your doctor can help!
  7. Once the doctor arrives, you’ll answer questions much like you would in the office. Be honest with your doctor here, and be ready to do things like show your tongue to the camera and move around so the doctor can see how you’re doing.
  8. If you’re having an appointment about specific symptoms, try writing them down in advance. That way you can remember if certain things happen at certain times of day, or after particular activities, or consuming certain foods.

Once you’ve gone over your concerns, and your doctor has completed an exam, they can offer treatment options much like they would in the office. They can still prescribe to you, and just have a prescription sent to your pharmacy electronically.

Though your doctor may still need to see you in person for certain tests like biopsies or X-rays, a lot can be dealt with and treated via telemedicine. Questions can be answered, and home remedies can be explained just as easily as in an office.

If you’re concerned about your health, or just want to have a checkup, schedule a telemedicine appointment. They’re easy to do, so go ahead and make the appointment today!

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