The Benefits of Telehealth—Is it Right For You?

Ashley Sutphin

Aug 25 2020

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The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has brought significant changes to our everyday lives, one of which is an increase in telehealth services.

In the early spring, many doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals were canceling non-essential procedures and appointments to reduce the number of patients in case of a coronavirus surge and also so that people had a lower risk of being infected. That paved the way for an increase in telehealth services and telemedicine.

The concept of telehealth isn’t new, but it is growing in popularity and it’s likely here to stay, even as many states see the stabilization of their coronavirus numbers and reopening of medical centers.

So what is telehealth, how does it work, and could it be right for you?

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is the use of technology to conduct medical appointments and care.

Telehealth might include doing a consultation or check-up with your doctor through video conference or video chat. It can also include things like remote vital sign monitoring, and the use of patient portals to keep up with all of your health care information in real-time.

With telehealth services, you may book an appointment with your provider, and then they will do a virtual visit. While many virtual visits are done through video chat on a smartphone or computer, they can also be done with a traditional phone call.

You can receive telemedicine services through your primary care provider or a specialist you already have a relationship with if they support that technology. You might also go through a mobile app that will match you with a board-certified provider on-demand.

The Benefits of Telehealth

Telehealth or telemedicine isn’t appropriate for every medical situation. For example, if you’re in an emergency situation or you have a serious condition that you haven’t yet seen a specialist about, you need in-person care.

There are situations where telemedicine works well, however.

elderly man using telehealth system

Specific types of care that can be delivered through telehealth include:

  • Wellness visits and general care
  • Prescription appointments
  • Eye exams
  • Mental health counseling
  • Nutritional or lifestyle counseling
  • Dermatology
  • Conditions that would typically be treated in an urgent care setting such as urinary tract infections

For example, if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes and you have to see your doctor frequently for check-ins and symptoms and medication management, telehealth can be beneficial for you. It can help you save the time you spend commuting to in-person doctor’s appointments, but you still receive high-quality care.

If you live in a rural area or don’t have easy access to your healthcare providers, telehealth can help you get the care you need. The Department of Veterans Affairs has been shifting resources in recent years to telemedicine so that they can better serve the needs of patients and particularly individuals who do live far from a clinic.

Increasingly, seniors want to age in place and live independently in their homes. Telehealth is just one more tool or resource you can use to facilitate that. If it’s not easy for you to make it to your healthcare provider’s office, you can cut down on the number of trips you have to take.

It’s possible that telehealth can help you manage your chronic conditions more effectively because of increased communication and coordination between yourself and your providers, and virtual visits are often a cheaper way to receive the health care you need as compared to in-person visits.

Preparing for an Online Doctor Visit

It’s normal, regardless of your comfort level with technology, to be a bit nervous as you prepare for your first online doctor visit.

When you make an online appointment, ask the administrative team what technology you’ll need. Usually, you’ll just need either your smartphone or a computer or tablet with an internet connection and audio-video capabilities.

Your provider’s office will likely have a technology guide to help you set up.

Prepare before your appointment not just in terms of technology, but also what you want to speak to the provider about.

virtual doctor appointment

The following are things to keep in mind as you prepare for your first virtual visit:

1. Talk to your insurance company about copays and coverage.

Most insurance companies have been required to cover telehealth visits during the coronavirus pandemic. Medicare also expanded coverage for telehealth consultations, but confirm with your insurance company just in case. You may have to pay a copay, even if virtual appointments are covered.

2. Make a list.

Create a list of the symptoms you’ve been experiencing or any concerns you may have. If you’re nervous about your visit, it could be easy to forget them otherwise.

You should also write down your pre-existing conditions so that you’re sure to share those with the provider you’re seeing without forgetting. If you take medicine for your conditions, let the provider know what those are too.

3. Keep medical devices nearby.

If you have any medical devices that could be relevant to your appointment, keep them nearby. This might include a scale, a blood pressure monitor, or a glucometer, for example.

4. Ask questions.

Keep a list of questions you have and then have that list nearby during your appointment.

5. Prepare a quiet place.

Prepare for your appointment by finding a quiet spot in your home, away from distractions. Choose a place with good lighting, especially if there’s something physical you need to show the provider, like a mole or rash. If you use headphones, it can reduce some of the noise happening around you during your call.

6. Test your tech.

Before your appointment is set to begin, test the system and your devices to make sure you don’t have any questions. You may need to download software or apps ahead of your appointment and create login information. Your care provider should give you all of these instructions before your appointment.

7. Write it down.

Take notes during your appointment with any instructions the provider had for you. Make sure you have a pen and paper handy.

8. Ask for help.

If you’re uncomfortable with technology, ask a family member to help you set everything up for your appointment and run through with you how it will work.

A telehealth appointment can be convenient, but in many cases, the provider you see on a virtual appointment will then ask you to make an in-person follow-up appointment if possible.

How Can You Access Telehealth Services?

One way to access on-demand, convenient telehealth services is to use MobileHelp’s new MDLIVE service.

Even without an appointment, you can see a board-certified doctor by your computer, phone, or tablet, as well as by phone. For common medications, you can get refills and prescriptions, and it doesn’t require insurance or a co-pay.

To use MDLIVE, purchase MobileHelp and you don’t pay anything beyond the monthly fee for a virtual doctor visit. As long as you have the MobileHelp service, MDLIVE is free to use for most appointments.


Telehealth services or telemedicine are growing in popularity because they provide convenient medical care from the comfort of your home. While you do have to use technology, once you get the hang of it, it’s often a very straightforward process. If you’re interested, explore an option like MobileHelp’s MDLIVE.

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