Blog

May 29, 2020

What You Need to Know About Telehealth During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Sophia L. Thomas, DNP, FNP-BC, PPCNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP

During the age of social distancing, working from home and the closure of essential businesses, many people are asking, “Can I still visit my health care provider?” Thankfully, due to modern technology and increased patient demand for health services amid COVID-19, access to quality care through telehealth services is more available than ever before. 

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is the use of digital technology, such as computers, tablets and mobile phones, to deliver health care remotely. As long as a patient has a device with secure access to the internet, and their health care provider, such as a nurse practitioner (NP), has access to an online telehealth platform, they should be able to participate in telehealth. 

Telehealth can make health care more accessible to people who live in rural or isolated communities, and it makes services more convenient for people with limited mobility, time or transportation options.

What telehealth care options do I have?

Your health care provider can help you determine if a telehealth appointment will meet your primary and specialty care needs and whether insurance will cover your visit. For example, you may be able to: 
●    Have a virtual appointment, such as a primary care visit, or a well-child checkup.
●    Participate in a dermatology (skin care) visit.
●    Receive mental health counseling.
●    Have an eye exam.
●    Receive prescriptions for medicine.
●    Get assessments and treatments for urgent care conditions, back pain, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and rashes.

If you’re having a health emergency, please call 911.

How can I make the most of a telehealth visit?

You can prepare for your appointment by writing down key health information in advance. Your provider will want to know your health history, symptoms, medications and vital signs, as appropriate for your concerns. Make a list of your health concerns so that you can share them during your visit. For example, what are your symptoms and how long you have been experiencing them? If you are currently monitoring your temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar or other vitals, make note of them so you can share the information during your appointment. Be sure to list your chronic conditions and any medications you are currently taking. Finally, if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, be sure to let your provider know the results of any tests you have had. 

Once you have prepared your list, it’s important to ready your technology in advance of your visit. After choosing the device you will use for your visit (phone, tablet, computer), you’ll want to make sure it’s fully charged or plugged in to power. Check your internet connection to ensure it’s working properly. If your provider uses an app for telehealth visits, plan to download it in advance of your appointment. Alternatively, your provider may direct you to an online portal as the location of your virtual appointment. Be sure you are set up with a username and password and can access the portal at least 15 minutes prior to the start of your session. During your appointment, keep a pen and paper or keyboard handy to take notes.
Can I use telehealth if I think I have COVID-19?

During a public health emergency, telehealth is more important than ever. Telehealth protects you, your family, your health care provider and others from getting or spreading COVID-19. If you are concerned you have contracted COVID-19, it’s important to speak with a health provider via a scheduled telehealth appointment or by phoning their office. They can help you determine if you need urgent care.  

Can I use telehealth for a non-COVID-19-related issue? 

Of course! As we all work to reduce the spread of COVID-19, telehealth appointments can help ensure continuity of care, chronic disease management, treatment for mental health and more. During this time, it’s more important than ever to take care of your health. Telehealth is a safe and effective solution to health care access. Should further testing be required or a prescription need to be filled to protect your health, your provider can order everything you need during your telehealth appointment. 

Are you unsure if your health care provider utilizes telehealth? 

Visit NPFinder.com to find an NP near you who may offer telehealth services to help you get your health back on track, even during the coronavirus pandemic.