The Difference Between An Online Visit and An In-Person Visit
With all the benefits of telemedicine, it’s impossible to say that it is exactly the same as seeing your doctor in-person. If you have a sore throat and need a strep culture, an online consultation won’t help much. The same is true for a cough—if you fear that you have an issue with your lungs, your doctor will need to actually check your lungs, not just hear you talk about it. However, for issues that don’t require physical check-ups or tests, online consultations are a game-changer.
There is one other way in which telemedicine differs from in-person doctor visits, and that is in terms of prescriptions. While telemedicine doctors are able to legally write out most prescriptions for patients, there are prescriptions that cannot be prescribed digitally. Of course, the laws differ from state to state, but the general rule is that drugs that require an in-person examination cannot be prescribed by a doctor who only sees patients online.
These include prescriptions for medical marijuana, stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, antipsychotic drugs like Seroquel and Risperdal, sedatives, and narcotics like morphine and Vicodin.
What Kind of Prescriptions Can an Online Doctor Prescribe?
Online doctors can prescribe most medications that don’t fall into the above categories. Some of the most popular prescriptions are for:
The Benefits of Telemedicine Go Beyond Prescriptions
Telemedicine can be a strange concept to get used to, especially for those who grew up in the age when regular trips to the doctor were the norm. However, if you can put your skepticism aside for a minute, you’ll see that there are actually many benefits of being able to consult your doctor online, beyond easy access to vital prescriptions.
Saves time - Travel time + wait time = half of your day gone for one doctor’s appointment. With telemedicine, the “waiting room” process is streamlined and you eliminate travel time. You no longer need to take time off from work or suffer the frustration of sitting in a waiting room for hours.
Increases access to care - Many people often neglect their health because they don’t have half a day to spend at the doctor’s office. They put off crucial consultations and end up neglecting themselves because getting to the doctor is just too hard. Telemedicine is as easy as using an iPhone app, which means people are more likely to attend to any health issues that arise.
Reduces your exposure to germs - The old joke is that the doctor’s office is the worst place for a sick person to go, since there he will be exposed to people who have all sorts of ailments. Sadly, there is some truth to the joke. If you’re not actually sick, sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office places you in the path of many different germs. Staying home reduces the risk that you’ll catch a nasty virus or infection.
Covered by insurance - Many insurance providers offer coverage for telemedicine, which means that patients don’t have to worry about paying more out-of-pocket than they would for an in-person visit. Make sure to check your policy with your insurance provider before scheduling an online appointment.
Choose Your Doctor Carefully
Just because someone says they are a doctor and offer online consultations does not mean they are actually a doctor. Any doctor who offers telemedicine services must be a board-certified practitioner who has gained accreditation from a state governing body. You don’t have to feel bad for asking to see the accreditation of an online doctor who you don’t know, although most doctors will provide this information on the site before you have to ask.
Similarly, if any website offers medication without a prescription, run the other way. Not only because obtaining medication without a prescription is illegal, but because it can be extremely dangerous. Getting any kind of drugs from someone who is not a licensed medical professional can jeopardize your health. Why take the risk when you can so easily consult with a doctor online?