What to Know About Online Health Care
How many times have you called your doctor’s office to book an appointment and they are not able to see you for several days? That is, if you are lucky enough to have a family doctor. A solution to this problem is the emergence of online health care. Online health care gives you access to an after-hours doctor who you can see without leaving your home.
What is Online Health Care?
Like the name suggests, online doctors offer access to healthcare from anywhere: your home, the office, your car. The possibilities are endless. Online health care, also called telehealth, uses technology to connect you with your health care team using video conferencing. Using your phone or computer, you will be able to log in to your telehealth account and talk to a registered nurse or doctor within minutes. Moving healthcare online offers an improved and more efficient healthcare system, which is especially great news for those who are unable to book an appointment, unable to take time off work, or have issues with mobility.
Online Health Care Services
There are many benefits to using telehealth, which include:
- Increased access to healthcare through a team of professionals. Some online health care companies have an intake nurse who will connect you with a doctor or provide you with health advice or information.
- Electronic visits, or eVisits, allow doctors to consult with patients through their online clinic. The use of eVisits showed improvements in primary care including continuity of care, quality and access of care.
- Flexibility in care delivery, which means patients can skip the waiting room and see their doctor virtually within minutes.
- Ability to get a diagnosis and treatment plan in minutes.
- Prescriptions are sent directly to your pharmacy of choice directly through the online clinic platform.
- Ongoing care and referrals. Your virtual doctor can order lab tests, provide you with a doctor’s note and refer you to a colleague or specialist all though the online clinic platform. If follow-up appointments are needed, they will schedule the appointments virtually, or in-person if required.
- Canadians get online access to their health information including a record of their visit so they can better manage their health conditions.
- Some telehealth services include nutritional counseling and online psychiatric care.
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How do Online Doctors Work?
Doctors can treat many conditions online and eVisits differ from platform to platform. Every online clinic is different, but the overall function is the same. A general eVisit starts when you log in to your account and choose an appointment time. Appointment times are often available within a matter of minutes. You will describe your symptoms to a nurse or answer prompts through the computer. Some platforms use AI during intake and will generate questions based on your previous responses to suggest possible diagnoses before connecting you with your doctor. You will connect with the doctor and have a consultation by text, video, or audio through the online clinic platform. Doctors can diagnose, advise of treatment options and provide prescriptions during the consultation. Prescriptions are automatically delivered to your pharmacy of choice
Are Online Doctors Safe?
Keeping patients safe is a doctor’s responsibility. Online doctors are extremely qualified; they are medical professionals that give care virtually instead of in person. About 90% of diagnoses can be made by asking the right questions, so in most cases, the doctor does not actually need to be in the room with you to offer their medical opinion and diagnosis. Online doctors are subject to assessment processes which vary by provider. Check the provider sites to get more information on their physician screening or minimum qualifications. Online health care is meant to treat common illnesses or injuries that are not life threatening. Serious health issues need to be taken care of in person at a clinic or in the emergency room.
When it comes to being online, do not take any risks. Make to check the security of the provider you are thinking of using to make sure your data and privacy are protected.
How Much do Online Doctors Cost?
If you are a Canadian resident, the cost for telehealth consultations may be covered by your provincial healthcare. To give an idea of cost, Babylon by Telus charges $59 per appointment if users in British Columbia are not covered by provincial healthcare (MSP). Virtual visits generally cost less than in-person visits if you are paying out of pocket. You also save on additional costs like the lost time from work so you can go to an appointment, gas money to get there and parking charges (if applicable).
How to Access Online Health Services
Accessing an online clinic reduces the number of unnecessary phone calls, in-person visits and trips to the emergency room. In a time where not everyone has access to a family doctor, eVisits give everyone the ability to connect with a doctor to get medical intervention before a minor health issue becomes a major one. Some of the telehealth resources available to Canadians vary by province, as each province has its own covered services and resources. For many platforms, you will need to create an account and follow instructions on how to access the service of that particular online clinic by either downloading an app, calling in via phone, or connecting through video conferencing.
The internet has given us a great number of tools since its inception. Now you can access healthcare in the palm of your hand. No need to force yourself to go wait in line at the clinic for a medical opinion, simply schedule an eVisit with your virtual doctor and you will be on your way to recovery within minutes.