There is a lot of buzz about telehealth and virtual care these days, but how do you know if a virtual doctor’s visit is the right option for you? Many different appointments are suited for virtual visits and are just as effective in providing health care as an in-person visit.
What is a virtual visit?
A virtual visit is similar to a regular doctor’s visit, except that you can connect with a doctor from the convenience of your own home or any private area where you have an internet or wireless connection. Virtual visits use live, secure, video technology to allow patients to directly see and speak with their physician through the convenience of their mobile device, tablet or computer. Virtual visits are never recorded, and use encrypted software to ensure your meeting is private and secure.
Virtual visits use HIPAA compliant Zoom to connect you to your physician. If you are accessing your virtual visit on a tablet or smartphone, you can download the Zoom app in the Google Play, or Apple app store before your visit. You can also download Zoom by going to Zoom.com/download. For more in.formation on how to set up your virtual visit, click here.
Once you’ve scheduled your virtual visit, your doctor’s office will provide you with instructions on how to access your visit. It is important that you follow the instructions in order to join your virtual waiting room. Also, it is important to make sure you have a reliable internet connection in order to run your visit.
What happens during a virtual visit?
Virtual visits bring health care to you, where you are. During a virtual visit, doctors will be able to provide a treatment plan, just as they would for an in-person visit. Physicians can then prescribe medication and request follow-up care.
During your appointment your doctor may need to record your vital signs. This includes taking your temperature, recording your heart rate, and your weight. Ask your primary or specialty care office about any tools (such as a thermometer) you might need for your appointment. It is also helpful to make a list of medications you are taking before your appointment. You can even have your prescription bottles with you during the appointment in case you need additional information, like dosage, for example.
What conditions are appropriate for virtual visits?
Many non-urgent health conditions and concerns can be treated with a virtual visit. Research shows that virtual visits are a safe and effective option for health care. For example, if you have heart problems, know that there is strong evidence that people with heart disease who use a combination of virtual care services and in-person visits, have a better chance of staying out of the hospital than patients who only receive traditional, in-person care.
Your recommended annual wellness visit follow-up is a great example of a visit that can be conducted virtually. As long as it is not your first visit with your doctor, a follow-up wellness visit is a great opportunity for a virtual visit. Because annual wellness visits are based on your personal health risks and health history, an in-person visit usually isn’t necessary.
Health conditions that require regular monitoring and are not life threatening are also good candidates for virtual visits. Some of these conditions include:
- Back pain
- Thyroid problems
Virtual visits are great for discussing laboratory results and for follow-up appointments with your doctor if you have chronic health conditions including:
- Heart problems
Minor health problems can also be treated with a virtual visit including:
- Urinary tract infection
- Sinus infection
- The flu
- Screening for COVID-19
Mental health, is another area that works well for a virtual visit. In many cases, having someone to talk to and point out mental health resources has provided comfort to patients. Through virtual visits, primary or specialty care physicians are able to provide resources and tools to help patients experiencing depression or anxiety. They can even refer patients to a therapist or psychiatrist virtually. Virtual visits with a therapist or psychiatrist have proven to be just as effective virtually, as in-person.
While Dignity Health Medical Group clinics remain open and safe for in-person visits, many people find that they enjoy the convenience that virtual visits provide. Virtual visits can be helpful for patients who are home bound or have difficulty with transportation. Families with small children also enjoy the convenience so they do not have to schedule childcare, especially in a time when school-aged children are at home during the day.
Our office staff are available to answer any questions you may have, and are eager to help. Virtual visits allow you to connect with Dignity Health Medical Group physicians and advanced practice providers where you want and when you are ready. If you have questions about whether your next appointment can be virtual, please contact your doctor to discuss the options that are available to you.