You may have concerns when it comes to visiting your doctor in person these days. But it’s important to continue to meet with a health care provider and stay on top of your health. Scheduling a telehealth visit can help you do this from the safety and comfort of your home. You may also be able to meet online with a provider 24/7 for urgent needs.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is a visit with a provider using a computer, tablet or phone versus going into the doctor's office. More and more providers are offering telehealth services to help their patients. You can ask your local health provider if they offer telehealth services.1
With telehealth you can:
- Have an appointment from the comfort and convenience of your home.
- See a health care provider over the internet.2
- Ask questions, get a diagnosis and/or help manage your condition(s).2
- Get medicines prescribed and sent to your pharmacy.3
You can have telehealth visits using only audio, but using video on your device may help you have a better appointment. Video may help your health care provider better understand your symptoms and concerns, because they can see what you are describing and experiencing. When you and your health care provider are able to see each other, you may be able to have a more productive visit without leaving your home.
How to schedule a video telehealth visit
Video-based telehealth services easily work with most computers, tablets and smartphones that are connected to the internet and have a camera. Check your provider’s website or call their office to learn about their specific telehealth availability and how to access it. Each provider’s office will have their own application, so ask for detailed instructions on how to use theirs.
Getting connected to telehealth
Use these tips to make sure both your audio and video are ready so you can make the most of your appointment.
Before your appointment:
- Review the detailed instructions for telehealth visits from your provider’s office.
- If you are using a smartphone or tablet, set up the telehealth application on your chosen device or find the website on your computer. (It’s wise to do this with plenty of time before your appointment to help avoid any stress.)
- Make sure your device is charged or plugged in and that it has Wi-Fi or an internet connection.
- If asked, enable audio and video on your device.
- Prepare a list of questions or topics to discuss with your provider.
Tips for your appointment:
- Find a private, comfortable and well-lit area to sit while having your visit. Avoid glare from windows.
- Bring your questions or topics, prescriptions and supplements to your visit.
- Open the telehealth application on your device 10-15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment.
- If possible, test your audio and video connection on the device.
- Join the appointment at the scheduled time.
When is telehealth not a good choice?
Telehealth isn’t for emergency care. If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or go to the ER right away.
1 Dependent on provider eligibility to perform local telehealth.
2 Not all medical conditions can be treated through telehealth. The telehealth doctor or nurse practitioner will identify if you need to see an in-person doctor for treatment.
3 Doctors can’t prescribe medications in all states. Prescriptions cannot be written for opioids.