Telehealth: Ask the expert about virtual care
Some say telehealth is an overnight success story that's been 20 years in the making. So, what is telehealth and is it right for you?
Telehealth is an umbrella term that encompasses a broad range of educational, administrative and other non-clinical healthcare activities. Telehealth uses a variety of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to deliver health-related services and manage all aspects of your health.
The sudden popularity of telehealth is due to a few factors. First, the growing need in the U.S. to access quality medical care converged with ever-improving technology. Next, throw in a global pandemic, making many people more comfortable using video chats and less comfortable going out in public. Lastly, insurance companies are becoming more receptive to covering virtual services.
A key element in telehealth is called "virtual care." Virtual care is the delivery of services through technology, such as telephone calls, video conferencing or secure websites, that allow providers – doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, therapists, etc. – to collect and exchange information with patients.
When should I consider virtual care?
Virtual appointments can be the right choice for routine check-ups with primary care physicians and specialists, help manage chronic conditions and medications, therapy and counseling sessions and even common ailments like skin conditions, cold symptoms and gastrointestinal issues.
Getting medical services from the comfort and safety of your own home saves time, travel and limits exposure to the general public and the potential germs that may be present in healthcare facilities. Providers who deliver telehealth services can determine when in-person visits are warranted.
Is telehealth right for me?
Requirements for a virtual healthcare visit are straightforward. You need to be comfortable talking with a healthcare provider by video or phone. You also need to have a device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone, with access to dependable internet or cell service.
Just about everyone can benefit from telehealth services. For some, it makes sense to consider 'virtual-first' insurance plans that can save an average of 10% on premiums compared to traditional health insurance plans.
Virtual-first plans, like Priority Health's MyPriority Telehealth PCP plans, are ideal for people who travel frequently, live in a rural area where access to care may be far away or for those looking for one plan to coordinate all their care. The cost savings, coupled with the access to quality care anytime, anywhere, makes it a compelling healthcare choice.
Bottom line, telehealth is a proven way for many to get quality healthcare, especially during COVID-19 when we need to balance medical care and social distancing. The technological advancements with at-home medical monitoring devices and connectivity, coupled with patients' safety and convenience, make telehealth a smart choice now more than ever.
Carrie Kincaid is Vice President, Individual Markets at Priority Health. In this role, she leads the company's portfolio of individual products, including strategy, product and market development, risk adjustment, sales and operations.