Telehealth was originally designed for people in rural areas who didn’t have nearby clinics or hospitals. As the years passed, its use increased — especially when the pandemic hit.
In fact, the American Hospital Association found that telehealth utilization grew 38 times higher compared to pre-pandemic levels. With the continued rise of telehealth, you should consider remote care, more specifically seeing a physician who can help you with any health issues you may be having.
Telehealth Physician Qualifications
Telehealth physicians are like standard doctors, except they provide their medical services to patients through communication technologies. As such, they must acquire or complete the same requirements as normal physicians. This includes attending medical school, completing an internship and residency, finishing a fellowship (if applicable), and obtaining board certification.
Many states also require continuing medical education (CME), which are educational activities for practicing physicians. A physician must meet their state’s CME credit in order to keep their license. California, for example, requires 100 CME credits per year.
In addition, Wheel notes that telehealth physicians are also required to be licensed in the state where their patient is located. Each state has different rules and regulations regarding physician-patient encounters. For instance, Alabama requires that they get a special purpose telemedicine license to practice across state lines.
What Conditions Can Telehealth Physicians Treat?
Common health issues
Common concerns like allergies, asthma, vomiting, colds, and flu can be treated by telehealth physicians. They can prescribe medications and give patients additional advice on how to recover. Injuries that need medical attention but are not life threatening like arthritic pain, sprains, strains, and other sports injuries can also be treated through remote care.
Rashes, skin inflammation, insect bites, and cellulitis are some of the skin concerns that patients can ask for treatment in virtual care. A telehealth physician may ask for photos of the infected area or conduct an appointment via video conferencing calls in order to assess the patient.
Telehealth physicians can also provide care to people with bronchitis, pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, and sinusitis. They can answer inquiries and determine the reasons behind a patient’s health concerns, such as their causes, symptoms, and potential treatments that can be done at home. The physician and also refer them to a more specialized doctor.
What Are the Benefits of Seeing a Telehealth Physician?
There are several benefits to consulting telehealth physicians. The first is that it saves time and money. They do not have to take time off work or devote weekends to appointments, spend on transportation or fuel. Telehealth services are especially beneficial for those who live in rural areas or locations with no nearby hospitals or clinics.
Another advantage is convenience. As long as they have the devices needed (like a computer and an internet connection), they can access remote care from any location. They can get medical attention in the comfort of their homes, without having to spend a long time (even hours in some cases) in waiting rooms.
It also lessens the chances of contracting illnesses when they use telehealth services. This is because they don’t have to physically go to clinics or hospitals where other patients are possibly carrying illnesses.
Lastly, award-winning health writer Doug Bonderud claims that with telehealth, more people have access to care. The elderly can receive treatment without having to tire themselves out by leaving the house. People with disabilities don’t have to worry about the challenges of getting to the doctor’s clinic. Additionally, patients are able to see their physician as often as they need to with telehealth. It is also delivered virtually, so they won’t have to put off appointments due to traffic, work, or other external factors.
When Should You Book an Appointment with a Telehealth Physician?
Similar to booking a doctor’s appointment, you should see a telehealth physician when you need a check-up or medical attention but lack the time or resources to do so. For example, if you get a sprain that will prevent you from leaving your house, consult a telehealth physician. Another instance that you should see a telehealth physician is when you have an infectious disease like a common cold. This way, you prevent infecting people you may encounter on the way to a clinic.
Aside from the aforementioned variables, you should try booking an appointment to see a telehealth physician next time you need to see a healthcare professional to take advantage of the convenience and cost.
How to Find Telehealth Physicians?
There are many ways to find telehealth physicians that operate in your area. The first is to call your health insurance company. They will be able to help you find telehealth providers that meet your needs. Another way to find these professionals is through your local hospital. Contact a nearby hospital to ask if their doctors provide telehealth services and how you can book an appointment. Lastly, a search on the web can lead you to your next telehealth appointment — there are many telehealth providers to choose from. Their respective websites provide information regarding their services, so pick one that is relevant to your particular situation and needs.
Telehealth physicians are able to provide the same care as standard physicians. However, patients can benefit more from their services due to factors like convenience, access, and reduced costs.
If you’re over 50, there are online geriatricians that can better address your problems as well. You can learn more about them in our post ‘What Does a Geriatrician Do – Complete Guide to Age-Related Care’.