As telemedicine services expand throughout the country, both providers and patients are becoming curious about what people are calling the third rail of healthcare. They have a vague idea of what telehealth involves, but aren’t sure what to expect from their first virtual care visit.
In fact, these services function much like a face-to-face medical visit would. While some hospitals and clinics have dedicated telemedicine rooms for virtual consultations, telemedicine can be accessed by patients directly from their homes.
Let’s review the basics.
What conditions can telemedicine treat?
Your typical telemedicine visit, also called an eVisit, centers around online diagnosis and treatment. They can be used to address a wide range of health concerns such as dermatology or mental health issues, medication questions and minor infections, and follow-up care for those with chronic conditions.
Generally, a telemedicine eVisit is appropriate for new patients when they have a minor health issue that doesn't generally require lab tests or imaging to diagnose. Allergies, coughs, colds, flu, infections, insect bites, sprains, and gastrointestinal symptoms can all be evaluated through telemedicine platforms.
Additionally, the platform is useful for delivering counseling services and for providing follow-up care to established patients who are managing heart problems or diabetes. Doctors can give test results during an eVisit and even prescribe medications through telemedicine. They can also encourage patients to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. By observing patients in their own home, clinicians can obtain valuable information on the patient's living conditions that can help with diagnosis.
How the eVisit Works
An eVisit will typically begin with the doctor asking a few questions about the patient's medical history. Depending on the equipment available at the patient's location, some vital signs such as weight, blood pressure, and temperature may be measured. If the telemedicine visit is happening in a hospital or clinic setting, the patient may be asked to change into a gown, although this is not necessary for home health visits.
Special cameras like these have been designed to make physical exams easier to conduct via video. The cameras allow doctors to closely inspect any areas of concern, such as rashes or wounds. Additional cameras function as ophthalmoscopes, providing detailed, real-time images of the structures within the eye. Other integrated devices can offer clinical data, allowing the provider to make an evidence-based diagnosis.
As the visit concludes, the doctor can share a diagnosis, provide a prescription, and arrange for follow-up care.
Incorporating telehealth and telemedicine services into your life as a clinician or patient is easy. Special software designed specifically for telemedicine can help make the experience as easy as possible for providers and patients. Cameras built for video conferencing provide the highest quality visual information, help consultations flow seamlessly and aiding in diagnosis. Just take a look at your telemedicine options and you’ll be part of the virtual care movement in no time.