Should You See Your Doctor Online?
Telemedicine has been steadily increasing in availability for years, but the COVID pandemic suddenly forced healthcare providers around the globe to invest in telehealth solutions to meet with patients safely in a socially distant manner. Now, when you make an appointment with your healthcare provider, you might have an important choice to make: Do you go in person, or do you schedule an online appointment?
It is incredibly likely that you will visit a virtual doctor in the coming months or years, but if you are unsure whether you want to see a healthcare provider over the web, you might consider the following pros and cons:
Reasons to Book a Digital Appointment
Telehealth is more convenient. When you book an appointment with a traditional healthcare provider, you need to wait in traffic during your commute to the provider’s office, wait in the waiting room, wait in the exam room and sometimes wait again to pay or book another appointment. When you have a busy schedule, telehealth appointments are much, much more convenient because they drastically cut back on the wasted time spent waiting for your provider. You can log into a virtual doctor’s visit from basically anywhere, so you never need to put off an appointment due to inconvenience.
Telehealth allows better access to healthcare experts. Not everyone lives within easy driving distance of a healthcare expert. In fact, the U.S. is riddled with medical deserts, where certain types of healthcare providers do not operate. This is particularly common in rural regions, but low-income urban neighborhoods can also suffer from a lack of healthcare providers. If it is all but impossible for you to reach a certain kind of healthcare provider, telemedicine might be your only viable option.
Telehealth gives you more control over your health. Many people opt not to engage with healthcare because of the hassle of visiting a doctor’s office — to the detriment of their health and wellness. Because telehealth makes healthcare experts more accessible, it means that you are more likely to seek treatments and care, keeping your body and mind in good shape, which is important for a long, happy life and lower healthcare costs over time.
Reasons to Continue Visiting Healthcare Providers In-person
Telehealth reduces access to equipment and tests. Tele health is an excellent solution for when you aren’t sure if you need healthcare or for when you have a minor health concern that is easily addressed with a prescription. However, if you have a severe condition that requires more extensive testing and equipment for treatment, you likely will need to continue seeing a provider in person. Yet, you shouldn’t automatically assume the worst; a virtual doctor can help you determine whether you need serious intervention or not.
Telehealth requires technological savvy. Not everyone is fully comfortable using technology. What’s more, many people do not have reliable access to internet connections, precluding them from taking advantage of telehealth solutions. Most telehealth platforms guide patients through the process of registering, booking appointments and seeing providers, but if you struggle to use technology, you probably won’t feel comfortable talking to a doctor over the web.
Telehealth can randomize healthcare providers. Some telehealth platforms allow you to select your preferred provider, so you can have continuity of care and develop greater comfort discussing delicate health concerns. However, many telehealth solutions randomize providers, which can feel a bit alienating if you require frequent care. If you are adamant about seeing the same provider every appointment, you need to be certain you are using a telehealth service that allows this — or you might opt for in-person care.
Telehealth isn’t always covered by insurance. Though telemedicine has been in development for decades, it remains a relatively new offering, and many conservative health insurance providers are hesitant to allow their patients to participate. Fortunately, the COVID pandemic has compelled many insurers to cover telehealth services, and the benefits to insurance companies — like lower costs — are actually resulting in more widespread coverage. Still, you should check with your insurance provider to better understand their telehealth policies before you make an appointment.
Most people find that the pros of telehealth vastly outweigh the cons. If you are curious about how telemedicine might work for you, you can make an appointment with an online doctor today.