As part of the national public emergency around coronavirus (COVID-19) many hospitals have broadened access to telehealth services so that patients can receive a wider range of services from their respective doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. This means you can now communicate with your doctors without traveling into the clinic or hospital.
How does Telecare work?
If you have ever used any patient portal which is provided for you by the hospital or clinic, then you might have got some idea about telehealth. To date, telehealth is used only to book appointments or for any follow-up medications. But today telehealth encompasses a broad range of electronic delivery systems that include audio or video discussions
- Brief virtual check-ins,
- E-visits that is non-face-to-face communication through patient portals,
- Mobile health apps,
- Secure messaging through text or email or what’s app.
To use this facility, you need not be an existing patient with a provider, new patients can also use this technology. All you need to check is whether your doctor is available in the same telehealth provider service before engaging.
How to access telehealth?
Anyone, who has a smartphone or laptop or computer, can access telehealth services. There are private pay services available for telehealth. These services will be available on payment basis. This telehealth provider is connected to various hospitals and doctors across India. You can download the app from the Google play store or Apple app store. The fee structure is displayed once you select the doctor with whom you need an appointment. If you like to go ahead you can make the payment.
Many hospitals also have in house telehealth services where an existing patient can directly get in touch with the respective doctor for all their follow up medications and concerns. New patients can also download the hospital app for telehealth services and enroll their names with the hospital and consult the doctor. In this current pandemic situation, almost every hospital has come up with these services to serve their patients.
When can you use Telehealth services?
You can avail telehealth servicers when symptoms are less severe for both adults and children whether it is related to COVID-19 or not. It can be effectively assessed through the telehealth visit. These symptoms can be common cold and flu, allergy symptoms, constipation, diarrhea, coughing, fever, headache, gastric related problems, insect bites, minor injuries, painful urination, rashes or skin related problems, sinus, sore throat, and stomachache.
After diagnosing your problem through a virtual visit the doctor can treat your condition. But many times these virtual visits become a triage tool that makes the doctor advise you to visit the hospital immediately, or visit a nearby clinic for urgent care, or go to an emergency room or he may advise you to take an X-ray or any other tests.
People with COVID-19 symptoms are at high risk; they should skip these virtual visits and immediately call their doctor for instructions if they develop any symptoms such as:
- Severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, along with dry cough and fever.
- Chest pain or pressure
- Confusion, delirium, or difficulty arousing the person from sleep
- Turning blue around the lips