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Understanding telehealth

Hearing a lot about telehealth lately? It’s not a coincidence. Telehealth is a great way to get the health care you need while still practicing social distancing.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to extend care when you and the doctor aren’t in the same place at the same time. If you have a phone or a device with the internet, you already have everything you need to do telehealth – you may be able to:

  • Talk to your doctor live over the phone or video chat
  • Send and receive messages from your doctor using chat messaging, email, secure messaging, and secure file exchange
  • Use remote patient monitoring so your doctor can check on you at home. For example, you might use a device to gather ECG or other vitals to help your doctor stay informed on your progress

Did you know?

Recent federal policy changes now allow you to receive care using tools that you may already be using. As a good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, doctors may use popular video chat applications with patients — including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, Zoom, or Skype. Ask your doctor what they support.

What types of care can I get using telehealth?

You might be surprised by the variety of care you can get through telehealth. Your doctor will decide whether telehealth is appropriate for your health needs.

If you need care — especially during COVID-19 — it’s worth checking to see what your telehealth options are.

For example, you may be able to get:

  • General health care, like wellness visits
  • Prescriptions for medicine
  • Dermatology (skin care)
  • Eye exams
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Mental health counseling
  • Urgent care conditions, such as sinusitis, back pain, urinary tract infections, common rashes, etc.

Get tips for finding a doctor who provides telehealth.

Disclaimer: The reference to named video- and text-based communications software for telehealth is informational and not intended as an endorsement of those services.

Last updated: July 7, 2020