What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is a term that has gained a lot of interest, especially in a post-pandemic world. Ensuring patients have a connection with their healthcare provider can provide greater peace of mind while also having better access to more information can help people better understand their health. 

In this article, we are going to show you everything you need to know about telehealth, what it is, and how it can benefit you.

Table of Contents

What is Telehealth?

In many ways, telehealth is like a virtual doctor visit, but it covers so much more. Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, involves a number of practices for your healthcare provider to assist you without having to visit them in person. 

Telehealth is conducted online, where you can either talk to your healthcare provider over the phone or via video chat, send or receive messages to and from the healthcare via email or text, and remote monitoring practices where healthcare practitioners can check on you at home through remote monitoring methods, for example, a device that gathers vital signs to provide up-to-date information on blood pressure, lung function, and so much more.

What Type of Care Can Telehealth Provide?

Telehealth can provide a number of specialized care practices. Telehealth can help you get a doctor’s note, but it can help you with most health concerns, including some of the following types of care: 

  • Conditions where a patient cannot physically get to the doctor. 
  • Remote monitoring services to help patients manage chronic conditions like diabetes. 
  • Skin complaints, which a medical professional would be able to see via video chat. 
  • Mental health treatments, such as eating disorders or medication management. 
  • Urgent care like illnesses, fevers, coughs, or colds.

Telehealthcare can provide a wide range of support for patients. Popular healthcare services are generally broken down into four main categories: 

  • Mobile Health. This involves using smart devices and health software apps to provide continuous health care. For example, these can be used to monitor a patient’s blood sugar level, blood pressure, or water intake to encourage healthy lifestyles. 
  • Remote Patient Monitoring. This consists of collecting patient health data from a patient in a remote location to send to a health care professional for monitoring, which is predominantly used for people who live in care settings and/or may not be able to physically travel. 
  • Asynchronous Telemedicine. More popularly known in telehealth circles as “store-and-forward,” this involves collecting clinical information and sending it electronically to another site for evaluation, such as medical history, lab reports, images, sound, or video. 
  • Live Video Conferencing. This is the most popular approach and involves a two-way video conference between the healthcare provider and patient, like a telephone call, but with the added benefit of the healthcare provider being able to physically see the person. This minimizes stress and commuting time for both sides but is also critical to bringing better healthcare to more rural or remote areas.

What Are the Benefits of Telehealth?

Convenience and Accessibility

With telehealth, patients have the benefit of accessing healthcare services without having to travel or wait in long lines. Everything can be done from the comfort of their own home or office. 

Affordability

Telehealth is often more cost-effective than traditional visits to the doctor. First of all, there is no travel required. Secondly, the cost of online consultations is typically a lot cheaper than seeing a healthcare professional in person. 

Increased Efficiency

Telehealth can work for patients and healthcare professionals by reducing the time of commuting to appointments, the time taken off work to attend appointments, minimizing waiting times, and patients can access specialist help from far away, whenever and wherever they need it. 

Provides Better Insight for the Patient

Because telehealth covers a number of disciplines in monitoring health at home, this allows patients to understand the notion of healthcare in the round and get to grips with methods of dealing with their condition, managing triggers, and potentially preventing further health problems. It also means patients can deduce whether it’s better to get emergency treatments if their condition has worsened rather than not feeling like they should “cause a fuss.” 

Patient Engagement

Because patients can be more engaged with the healthcare provider by providing vital signs or real-time symptoms, and telehealth being used to provide reminders to patients to take medication, appointments, and provide informative videos or posts to improve their lifestyle, patients are more switched on when it comes to their health, which can increase their confidence and ability to manage conditions.

Are There Any Limitations to Telehealth?

While telehealth provides a convenient and cost-effective method to see doctors without having to leave your home, there can be some limitations. There will be times when a patient needs to physically visit a doctor, such as for blood work, imaging tests, or to have a hands-on diagnosis, for example, a lump that may require a doctor to physically feel it. For many people, a virtual appointment is not a substitute for face-to-face interactions. 

Additionally, services may not be fully covered by insurance companies. While insurance companies are covering the cost of telehealth visits, as some services may not be covered depending on the provider’s limitations, this could result in the patient having to pay out.

Who is Telehealth for?

Telehealth services can help a number of people with various conditions and concerns. On a wide spectrum, telehealth is for everyone, but there are people who can benefit more from telehealth, for example, those with limited mobility, or people who live a long distance away from the medical center. 

It can be very useful for people with long-term conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, COPD, or mental health conditions. The goal of telehealth is to make sure that people who wouldn’t be able to access services can do so, making it an invaluable option for everyone.

How Does Telehealth Differ From In-Person Care?

There are differences between the two services, but the biggest difference is that communication is done remotely with telehealth.

In-person care involves the patient being physically examined in the same room as the medical professional, and telehealth covers the same services you would expect from a medical professional, but without that in-person touch. 

Telehealth can differ from in-person care in some of the following ways: 

  • Can Minimize Infection Spreading. Telehealth increased in stature to minimize the spread of coronavirus and is still an excellent option for people who may have contagious infections, like a cold or the flu. 
  • Convenience. Telehealth is more convenient for both patients and doctors due to a reduced need for transportation. 
  • The Cost. An in-person visit costs start from $146, but an average telehealth visit is around 50 to 80 dollars, which can make a big difference to a patient.  

What is a Telehealth Appointment?

A telehealth appointment is a virtual consultation between the patient and their doctor. It’s like having an in-person visit but without the physical room. Instead of meeting in person, your doctor will likely use video calling on a platform such as Skype or Zoom or from inside a telehealth app, so you can both talk and see each other in real time.

How Does Telehealth Work?

Telehealth can work in three critical ways:

  • Digital Applications. After a virtual visit with a doctor, a doctor may need to monitor a patient’s symptoms or record results via a digital app, which allows both the patient and the professional to monitor conditions with real-time information. 
  • Online Messaging. An online messaging service can be an instant way to communicate concerns or changes in symptoms to get real-time advice on how to manage symptoms or update treatment plans without booking an appointment. 
  • Phone or Video Call. The main way telehealth appointments work is via video or phone call, so a patient can discuss their symptoms and conditions with a healthcare professional. This reduces time spent traveling to the appointment, making it as stress-free as possible.

How to Prepare for a Telehealth Visit?

To get the most out of your telehealth visit, you should attempt to do the following: 

  • Ensure you have a device with an internet connection that is enabled for video, such as a laptop with a webcam or a smartphone with a camera attached. It is also possible to have an audio-only telehealth visit using a telephone, but you need to inform your healthcare provider before the appointment. 
  • Check any messages for instructions, such as email, text, or other forms of communication from your healthcare provider that may include information about the appointment and how to use the technology. 
  • Test the technology to make sure it is working properly, so you get the most out of the appointment. 

You should also prepare for your appointment by doing some of the following: 

  • Find a well-lit spot, so your healthcare provider can see you. 
  • Make sure the camera is at eye level so the healthcare provider can see your face. 
  • Reduce background noise by finding a quiet place and minimizing distractions. 
  • Close applications on your device to improve your internet connection. 
  • Knowing what you want to say, and having a list of your current medications, symptoms, or other concerns can help the healthcare provider gain a better understanding of your concerns.

All-in-all, Why is Telehealth Important?

Telehealth has come to prominence since the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to provide healthcare to patients in their homes, and as such, it is incredibly beneficial to patients in remote areas who cannot physically access healthcare. 

Telehealth is also beneficial to healthcare providers who are attempting to deliver a more comprehensive service. As physical appointments can take longer depending on the concerns, telehealth can be the perfect opportunity for patients who want medical advice without needing to take up time in physical slots that could go to other more needy patients. 

Because telehealth utilizes technology in such a comprehensive way, it does not just speed up appointment times, but the supplementary services, such as sharing important information, text or email reminders, monitoring technologies, and recording measurements, are all geared towards helping a patient understand their health better.

Try the DrHouse Telehealth Platform!

DrHouse is a secure and comprehensive telehealth platform, providing you with the option of easily accessing healthcare remotely.

With DrHouse, you can quickly consult a doctor in real time using our telehealth app. You can start a video visit with an online doctor 24/7 with wait times under 15 minutes, and you don’t even need to leave your home.

The clinicians at DrHouse can diagnose your condition, create a personalized treatment plan, and prescribe you medication and refills. It’s fast, convenient, and secure.

FAQ

What is the Definition of Telehealth?

The definition of telehealth is the delivery of health services, either via telecommunication or electronic information.

Do You Have to Be on Camera for Telehealth?

Depending on your telehealth provider, it is not necessary to be on camera for telehealth appointments, and appointments can be done audibly if necessary. However, if a patient has a concern that requires the healthcare professional to gain a better opinion by examination, being on camera or providing visual evidence will help them come to a diagnosis. Also, some medications can only be prescribed if the healthcare professional has seen the patient in person or through video.

Are Telehealth and Telemedicine the Same Thing?

While the terms “telehealth” and “telemedicine” are used interchangeably, telehealth can be used to describe health-related support delivered via telecommunications, and telemedicine is typically a term that relates to the application of delivering healthcare practices in this manner.

Can You Get Prescription Medication With Telehealth?

Yes, it is possible to get prescription medication with telehealth. Depending on the patient’s condition and the healthcare professional’s judgment, they can prescribe medications if necessary.

How to Do a Telehealth Visit?

The best way to do a telehealth visit is to make sure you are prepared by having a stable internet connection, finding a quiet and well-lit spot, closing applications on your phone or device, and having all of the information ready to provide a full picture.

How Much Does Telehealth Cost?

The cost for telehealth visits varies, depending on the provider and insurance coverage. However, typically telehealth visits cost less than in-person visits and range from 50 to 80 dollars.

Is Telehealth Covered by Insurance?

Some but not all telehealth providers work with various insurance companies, so it is best to check with your insurance provider. Additionally, some healthcare providers may have their own telehealth plans that you can enroll in.

Key Takeaways

Telehealth is an invaluable tool for patients and medical practitioners to gain a clearer picture of an individual condition. However, there are some limitations to telemedicine and telehealth practices, specifically the patient being present at the appointment in person.

There are a number of benefits to using telemedicine, and as many patients are becoming happier with online telehealth services, a virtual visit can be the perfect choice when a patient has a specific concern but does not want to book an official appointment or add to a doctor’s workload.

For those who want to give telehealth a try, DrHouse provides telehealth visits, where patients can request a telehealth appointment within the space of 15 minutes to get their needs met and their concerns remedied. 

Sources: 

  • Datta, N, Derenne, J, Sanders, M, Lock, JD. Telehealth transition in a comprehensive care unit for eating disorders: Challenges and long-term benefits. Int J Eat Disord. 2020; 53: 1774– 1779. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23348
  • Mechanic OJ, Persaud Y, Kimball AB. Telehealth Systems. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island (FL); 2022. PMID: 29083614.
  • Philip J. Hofstetter, John Kokesh, A. Stewart Ferguson, and Linda J. Hood. The Impact of Telehealth on Wait Time for ENT Specialty Care. Telemedicine and e-Health.June, 2010.551-556. Doi: http://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2009.0142
  • Reynolds, Rebecca M. Telehealth in pregnancy. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Volume 8, Issue 6, 459 – 461. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(20)30158-3 
  • Greenwood H, Krzyzaniak N, Peiris R, Clark J, Scott AM, Cardona M, Griffith R, Glasziou P. Telehealth Versus Face-to-face Psychotherapy for Less Common Mental Health Conditions: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. JMIR Ment Health 2022;9(3):e31780. Doi: 10.2196/31780
  • Rokosh RS, Lewis WC 2nd, Chaikof EL, Kavraki LE. How Should We Prepare for the Post-Pandemic World of Telehealth and Digital Medicine? NAM Perspect. 2021 Jun 7;2021:10.31478/202106a. doi: 10.31478/202106a. PMID: 34532695; PMCID: PMC8406581.

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

DrHouse

Healthcare

on your schedule

Skip the unnecessary waiting room,
see a board-certified clinician now.

Start an Online Visit
Available in 50 states. No insurance needed.

Prescriptions as needed
Renew or get a new Rx.

On-demand virtual visits
See a clinician in 15 minutes.

24/7 care support
We are here to help you.

DrHouse
  • 1

    Download the DrHouse app.
    Set up your free account in a minute.

  • 2

    Start a visit with an online doctor. Wait time is less than 15 minutes.

  • 3

    Get an Rx from your preferred pharmacy. Pick up a Rx nearby or get it delivered to you.

Download our app