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Getting help with access

Even if you might like to try telehealth, other challenges may get in the way of easily accessing online services.

I don’t have health insurance

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more people qualify for financial assistance and lower premiums on health insurance plans. Most customers can qualify for a plan that includes doctor visits, prescription medications, and preventive services for $10 per month, or less.

I don’t have internet access

If you have access to fast internet, but cannot pay the full cost, you may qualify for Lifeline exit disclaimer icon . Lifeline is a program that will apply up to $9.25 to your phone or internet bill.

If your doctor uses a secure, password-protected portal, you may be able to access telehealth services at libraries, community centers, or other places offering internet access to the public. Video or phone discussions may not be advisable in a public environment.

Did you know?

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a program to help you pay your internet bill. Ask your current internet company for more information. Visit exit disclaimer icon  to see if you qualify or to apply online.

I’m not confident using technology for telehealth

Meeting your doctor online may feel a bit uncomfortable at first. With practice, telehealth appointments can be as easy as making a phone call.

Tip: Are you new to telehealth? Get tips and information on the basics of telehealth.

Video meetings

Your provider will likely ask you to confirm your telehealth visit in the days before your appointment. Confirmation is typically done by text message, phone call, or messages in a patient portal.

Before you log on to your appointment, you may receive instructions on how to sign onto the video chat with your doctor. Give yourself plenty of time to get set up for your appointment. If you are having trouble getting online, you can message your provider or call them for help.

There are a lot of telehealth video platforms out there. Each one will look a bit different than the others, but all of them have a few common features. Once you are logged in, here are a few things to look for:

This button controls your camera. When you see a slash through it, that means your doctor cannot see you.

This button controls your microphone. When you see a slash through it, that means your doctor cannot hear you.

When you click this button, a chat box will open up. The chat box lets you type and send messages to your doctor.

This button is usually red. Clicking on it will end your telehealth video meeting.

Accessing documents for telehealth

Your doctor may ask you to fill out forms before or after your telehealth appointment. Some doctors allow you to provide information directly on their website, but some may ask you to download documents.

The most common kind of document you’ll receive is a portable document format (PDF) file. If you see “.pdf” at the end of a file name, that means it’s a PDF file. You’ll need a document reader exit disclaimer icon  to view, print, and fill out PDFs.

What to do when you’re having trouble

Technical issues happen to everyone. A lot of the time, the issues are not your fault. If you are having technical problems during your telehealth appointment, here are a few things you can do to fix them:

  • Close your web browser, then open it again. Your doctor’s telehealth website may need a quick reset
  • Turn off your internet connection, then turn it on again. There might be a temporary issue with your network
  • Call your doctor on the phone. Someone will be available to walk you through your technical issues or help you reschedule your telehealth appointment

Improving digital literacy

Digital literacy means safely sharing information online. Telehealth involves sharing personal medical information online. So, feeling certain that your details are private is important.

Below are some online resources that help you learn digital literacy skills:

Places to look for improving digital literacy skills:

  • Public libraries
  • Local government community and human services departments
  • Non-profit groups that provide English as Second Language (ESL) classes
  • Job training programs
  • Public schools that provide support services for parents and guardians
  • Community colleges and adult education centers

Disclaimer: The reference to named document reader software for telehealth is informational and not intended as an endorsement of that service.

Last updated: February 24, 2022

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