Online care for urgent medical issues offers a convenient, at-home alternative for in-person visits when you’re suffering from a broad range of ailments such as sinus infections, allergies, and cold and flu symptoms. It’s important to note that those experiencing life-threatening symptoms should never resort to online services and instead should call 9/11 or seek immediate in-person treatment.
If you aren’t sure what telehealthcare is, how online healthcare services work, and whether or not it’s the right option for you, check out 8 facts that you need to know before diving in.
#1 You can get a lot of medical conditions treated
Online healthcare services are generally misunderstood as being limited in scope and depth. But the truth is actually the very opposite. Telehealthcare services employ doctors, nurses, and other medical staff from all fields and across the country. This enables them to provide patients with a more comprehensive treatment list than many smaller, local, urgent care facilities. Some of the conditions you can get treated using online urgent care include:
- Seasonal allergies
- Sinus infections
- Sore throat
- Cold and flu
- Urinary tract infections
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Sexually transmitted diseases or infections
- Strep throat
- Pink eye
- Cold sores
#2 But not everything
Of course, it’s also important to know the limitations of online urgent care services. It’s not a cure-all solution by any means. Online care is great for general medical conditions and illnesses. However, life-threatening or present emergencies need to be dealt with in person at the ER or an urgent care clinic near you. Some situations you should NOT use telehealthcare for include:
- Severe chest pains
- Difficulty breathing
- Intense pain in the abdominal area
- Serious emergencies
- Suicidal thoughts
- Homicidal thoughts
- Lab work
- Conditions that require extensive physical exams
Basically, anything that is considered an emergency should be left to an in-person medical team.
#3 You can get prescriptions and refills online
Here’s something most people don’t know. Online healthcare services can write and send out prescriptions for you. In fact, many services will send the prescription directly to your local pharmacy or arrange for delivery straight to your door. If you already have an ongoing prescription, the process is even easier. So online care is definitely the most convenient option if you are homebound, worried about catching something in an urgent care ward, or just don’t feel like waiting around for an hour just to get a prescription written out for allergy medication.
#4 Online healthcare services require a little technical planning
While this may seem obvious, it’s slipped enough people’s minds to make it worth mentioning. Telehealth services are performed online. The medical forms are filled out online, the doctor’s appointments are conducted online. Even if you need a physical exam, everything is done, that’s right, online.
It doesn’t take much, but it means you need to be prepared for that technically. Make sure you have a computer or tablet connected to a good internet connection. Additionally, here are a few more things you will want to have around for the best online urgent care:
- Computer, tablet, or smartphone
- Speakers or headphones (built-in is fine)
- Microphone (also, built-in is fine)
Many online healthcare services have mobile apps to make the process faster and easier. You can download the app onto your phone and set up an account. Then all your information will be saved so you don’t have to re-input it each time you want a virtual visit.
#5 You don’t need insurance
Probably one of the most appealing advantages of using online services for urgent medical issues over other types of medical care is that these services require no medical insurance whatsoever. You can sign up for an account, virtually see a doctor, ask medical questions, and receive a diagnosis without health insurance. You can even get prescriptions without a plan.
#6 But you might be covered anyway
According to a recent poll, more than 75 million patients have online care visits covered by their health insurance plans. Major providers, including United, Anthem, Highmark, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, offer this type of coverage. So it’s worthwhile checking your plan to see whether or not this option is available to you.
In fact, even some people who are covered by their health insurance provider still prefer to use online healthcare and pay privately because of the ease of use and affordability. With some health insurance plans, you’ll actually have to pay more for the co-pay than you would for a flat rate from the urgent care service itself. So sometimes it’s just more cost-efficient to work this way. And other times it’s just more convenient.
#7 Telehealth services are secure
When dealing with medical information and personal data, it’s important to ensure that the services you are using maintain maximum privacy and security. Online medical care services that are legitimate are required to abide by HIPAA laws regarding privacy policies and security measures. Additionally, reliable services have antivirus and encryption technology securing their databases and websites. So your information is locked behind several layers of high-security technology.
Of course, not all are created equal. So you’ll have to do your part as well. Find an online healthcare service that is 100% HIPAA-complaint and takes the necessary precautions for online security and personal information safety. Fortunately, these policies are clearly written out and usually displayed on the website. So you don’t have to dig very deep to find out this important information.
#8 Online healthcare visits are fast
Another benefit to using online service versus in-person clinics is the speed. To begin with, you won’t sit around a waiting room for hours, which is commonplace around brick-and-mortar clinics. Instead, online healthcare services usually give you an appointment within a few minutes - or at most an hour. Regardless of when you get the appointment, though, you don’t have to sit around waiting. You are at home, at work, or wherever else you want to be. So you can go about your daily routine and just log on at the time of the appointment.
Additionally, the appointments themselves are fast. The typical doctor’s visit at a telehealth service is ten minutes. This is more than enough time for the doctor to give over their diagnosis, answer any of your questions, and provide you with the medical support you need. Remember, the medical staff has already reviewed your file. So there isn’t a lot of questioning the doctor has to do at the time of the visit itself.
Overall, online services for urgent medical issues are just more efficient, keeping the entire process down to a minimum without cutting corners.
Online Care for Urgent Medical Issues: Getting the Help You Need, When You Need it
Online services for urgent medical issues provide a hassle-free, affordable, and convenient method for getting medical treatment when you need it. Whether you are struggling to fit a doctor’s appointment into your busy schedule, need a second opinion, don’t have health insurance, or just want answers to some important health questions nagging you, this is a good solution. From minor aches and pains to allergies, flu symptoms, and even STDs, online care can give you what you need without the headache of traditional medical care centers.