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5 Questions and Answers About TeleHealth

5 Questions and Answers About TeleHealth

What is telehealth?

The 1960s were a time of great excitement as man, his viruses, bacteria, and other medical ailments sped toward the moon. NASA was faced with the herculean task of providing medical care to astronauts who were millions of miles away, and so Telehealth was born.

By 1975, fifteen active Telehealth projects were in motion and a new era in medicine had taken root.  Soon the project expanded into providing care for patients in both rural communities and space, and today it’s expanding into our homes.

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    It is now possible to organize a 15–20 minute video call with a medical professional in just a few minutes using an iPhone or android app. Imagine the possibilities. Instead of driving to your medical professional’s office, you can now have a virtual visit from the comfort of your own home in complete privacy. If your restrictive work hours are preventing you from seeing your doctor, you can call at any time of night or day. For those who are elderly and infirm, virtual visits are preferable to what can seem to be an epic journey to visit your doctor’s office.

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    Many doctors are using Telehealth to generate additional revenue for their practices by taking video or phone calls between appointments or during no-shows. Once the technology is worked out, it’s every bit as convenient for them as it is for you.

    Other applications of Telehealth include psychotherapist visits to chronic care management services, home healthcare services, social work, occupational therapy, remote monitoring of patient’s vitals, sending medication reminders, and motivational messages via text,

    When should I use Telehealth?

    For acute medical conditions, use Telehealth If:

    • you have a cold, sinus infection, sore throat, UTI, skin rashes, vomiting/diarrhea, or are interested in quitting smoking.
    • you have a mental health conditional such as anxiety or depression and require counseling from a psychologist.
    • you need to talk to a social worker, or a case manager whom you have an existing relationship with about chronic condition.

    Do NOT use Telehealth if:

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    • You are in imminent danger of harming yourself or others. Call 911 or head straight to the nearest emergency room.
    • You are experiencing acute chest pain or unexplained numbness and tingling or the worst headache of your life. Call 911 or head straight to the nearest emergency room.
    • You have a wound or other condition that requires physical care.

    Is Telehealth available in my state?

    American Telehealth Association 2015
      American Telehealth Association 2015

      In 2015, the American Telemedicine Association graded Telehealth throughout the U.S.  The vast majority of states scored at least a B with five states scoring an A, defined as complete parity with physical services.

      There’s a good chance that Telehealth is available in your state.

      Many health insurers have started programs of offering Telehealth services. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the largest payers in the country, now offers Telehealth doctor’s visits as a covered benefit to its members. There are also private services such as Dr On Demand, Live Health Online, MD Live, and many more. Even WebMD is now looking to provide this service.

      Can I get a prescription?

      During the sign-up process, you will be asked to nominate a pharmacy where you can collect any medications prescribed during your virtual visit. It’s important to understand that while almost all Telehealth providers can prescribe some classes of medications, there are state and federal restrictions to consider.

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      Controlled substances are rarely offered due to federal regulations, though some states such as Texas allow for dispensing in DEA facilities. It is a good idea to check on the Telehealth services web site that you are using to see exactly what conditions they treat, and whether they prescribe for those conditions.

      It is safe to assume that most common medications such as antibiotics will always be covered.

      How does my primary stay in sync?

      At the end of each Telehealth visit, your primary is sent a discharge summary once the visit completes that lists the diagnosis, any prescribed medications, followup instructions, and a range of other information that is designed to keep them completely up to date with what happened in your virtual appointment.

      In most cases the discharge summary is faxed directly to your doctors office on the day of the visit and scanned or imported into your Electronic Medical Record for future reference.

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      “We need to bring the exam room to where the patients are.”
      —Dr. Jay Sanders, telemedicine pioneer

      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

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      Colin Rhodes

      Chief Technology Officer

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      Last Updated on November 20, 2018

      10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

      10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

      A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

      Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

      1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

      Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

      If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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      2. You put the cart before the horse.

      “Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

      3. You don’t believe in yourself.

      A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

      4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

      The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

      5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

      If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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      6. You don’t enjoy the process.

      Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

      The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

      7. You’re trying too hard.

      Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

      8. You don’t track your progress.

      Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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      9. You have no social support.

      It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

      10. You know your what but not your why.

      The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

      Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

      Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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      Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

      Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

      Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

      • The more specific you can make your goal,
      • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
      • The more encouraged you’ll be,
      • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

      I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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