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When (And When Not) To Use Telemedicine

Telemedicine is a great tool for many people and has seen a big uptick in use thanks to COVID. It’s still not widely used, and for many reasons (both valid and not.) For most people, it truly is a great way to get medical care but, like anything, people need to assess their health situation before making a decision. In this blog, we’re going to break down some of the instances where telemedicine would and wouldn’t be a good choice.


The Doctor Already Offers Telemedicine: Use It

Some doctors (especially during COVID) have started offering telemedicine to their patients. If someone’s doctor offers a virtual visit or consultation, there are only a few reasons why someone shouldn’t utilize that. If someone is having a medical situation that requires an in-person examination (such as an ear infection), they would obviously want to physically go to the doctor’s office. However, there are several situations where doctors can give a thorough examination via videos and photos.

Other perks to using telemedicine if someone’s physician already offers it is that it may cost less than an in-person visit, and the doctor will already have an established relationship with the patient. When chatting with a doctor through telemedicine, it’s a perk to have a doctor that already knows your medical history.

If someone’s doctor doesn’t offer telemedicine though, it is still possible to get a virtual care visit. There are telemedicine services that take many different forms of insurance, and these can still be great choices for someone who needs a consultation with a doctor.


Medical Emergencies: Don’t Use It

This is definitely not the time to try out telemedicine. If someone is having an emergency (broken bones, heart attack, bleeding wounds, etc.) they need to go to an urgent care or hospital. We recommend urgent care over a hospital whenever possible, as hospitals tend to be very expensive.


Short On Time: Use It

Telemedicine is more often than not a very quick way to get medical care. Patients can stay in their home, their office, or wherever they are and be seen the same day by a physician. One of our own Karis team members was able to get their first-ever telemedicine appointment scheduled and finished within an hour and even received their prescription the same day. Telemedicine can be a great choice for working parents, individuals with busy schedules, or someone who simply doesn’t want to sit in a doctor’s office for hours. Several telemedicine services are even available 24/7, so if someone has a job or lifestyle that causes their free time to be late at night or very early in the morning then telemedicine is a great solution for them.


Bad WiFi or Low-Quality Device: Don’t Use It

If someone lives in an area where they can’t connect to the internet or their devices run slowly because of poor wifi, telemedicine may not be the best choice. No one wants their video to be constantly freezing when they’re trying to explain their medical problem to a doctor. Also, for anyone with an older device or a device with a broken camera, it might be better to go for an in-person visit. The doctor needs to be able to see the patient, and if they can’t then there’s not much of a point to the telemedicine visit. With minor medical needs, a chat feature can be used but if someone needs any kind of physical examination done they need to have decent wifi and video capabilities.


No Insurance: Use It

This one might come as a surprise, but telemedicine actually can be a great choice for uninsured patients! Some telemedicine providers offer virtual visits for less than $100, which isn’t exactly cheap but it’s better than going to a hospital and getting charged even more. There are telemedicine platforms that offer a lower rate but are a monthly deal. Doctegrity for example offers telemedicine visits for $25 a month for individuals. 


Final Thoughts

As with any medical decision, it’s important for patients to assess their individual needs and lifestyles to determine the best course of action; telemedicine is no different. At the end of the day, it’s a great solution for most people. Both uninsured and insured individuals can receive virtual care, it’s fast, it’s convenient, and right now during COVID, it’s safe. Really the only time telemedicine is a completely wrong choice is in an emergency. So, as long as someone isn’t having a medical emergency, telemedicine is an excellent way to receive care.

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