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How Do Virtual Doctor Visits Work?

person attending a virtual doctor appointment

How Do Virtual Doctor Visits Work?

Seeing the doctor may be necessary, but it isn’t always convenient. There is the travel time, waiting rooms and a chance of picking up the flu or cold from others visiting the clinic or hospital.

Though you should never delay seeing your personal doctor, there can be an easier way to handle your visit for certain needs. We’re talking about virtual doctor visits, which can happen by phone, video call, email or messaging. Your health care provider will determine by which means you are able to schedule your appointment. These types of appointments may also be referred to as telemedicine.

Each health care provider may be a bit different in how their virtual visits work, but often, there will be an option to have a video call if you and your personal doctor prefer it. These video calls can take place on your smartphone or computer. This may require you to download an app, such as the health care providers portal app, in order to securely conduct the virtual call. These apps may also provide you with the ability to simply send a message to your personal doctor, similar to an email, if you have a simple questions that doesn’t immediately require scheduling an appointment.

Benefits of Virtual Doctor Visits

These types of visits allow you to get the care you need from the comfort of your own home or anywhere else you can connect over the phone or internet. This makes these appointments more convenient and can be safer than going into a clinic.

If you have a cold or otherwise have concerns about getting sick while at a clinic, a virtual visit can limit the spread of illnesses and allow you the comfort of staying home. Of course, this will depend on your illness and the purpose of your visit, so your personal doctor can determine whether a virtual or in-person visit is preferred.

Virtual visits can also be beneficial if you need the help of a family member during your appointment. Sometimes it can be helpful to have a loved one with you to discuss treatment or to help you relay important health information, such as family medical histories.

Virtual Doctor Appointments Can Help You Prevent Falls

If you have a medical condition or are at an advanced age that may put you at an increased risk of dangerous falls, visiting with your personal doctor from home can help you limit that risk. When it makes sense for you and your personal doctor, you can schedule virtual visits that allow you to stay home and avoid traveling to a more unfamiliar area that could present fall hazards.

This is the case especially in the winter. If conditions are snowy, icy and slippery, you should absolutely consider asking your doctor about the possibility of visiting with them over the phone or through a video call.

When to See a Doctor at a Clinic Instead of Virtually

Of course, not all health care needs allow for virtual visits. There are visits for which a virtual visit may be appropriate and ones where it is important that you are physically present at the clinic or hospital.

For example, discussing how you feel after starting a new medication is usually a great opportunity for a discussion with your personal doctor through virtual means. On the other hand, an illness that may require medical testing would likely require an in-person visit.

[Read more: Find the Right Place to Go When You Need Medical Care]

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