Testing… 1… 2: Telehealth is Here

Even if you’ve never heard the word “telehealth,” you might have engaged in it. Have you logged onto a doctor’s website to check test results, or uploaded health data for a nurse or doctor to review? If you’ve done these or used technology any way to get healthcare services from a distance, you’ve used telehealth. If you haven’t, you likely will soon. Telehealth is becoming widely accepted as a way to make healthcare more accessible, efficient, and affordable.

Like all healthcare advances, this one comes with questions. In this space, we’ll answer three big ones.

When can I use it? Really, that’s up to your provider. Some providers use telehealth for initial consultations, follow-up visits, or to make connections when a visit isn’t possible. Others use it to gather or communicate information. The options are unlimited, except for one thing: You should not try to use telehealth in times of emergency.

Can I get medication? You can get prescriptions through telehealth in most cases. Many states have passed laws allowing the prescribing of specific medications by telehealth, and the list of allowed medications is expanding. Your physician and benefits provider should know what is allowed for you.

Is it covered? Your insurer or government healthcare program will cover telehealth in many cases. Telehealth is covered more every day as the government and insurance providers recognize it’s ability to control costs and increase access to care.

How should you prepare for the future with telehealth quickly becoming a standard component of the healthcare world?

Step one: Check your health benefits so that you fully understand what is and isn’t accepted under your coverage.

Step two: Learn about the capabilities of the phone, computer, and other technology you own, because – given the course healthcare is on – sooner or later you likely will find yourself engaging in telehealth.

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