Telehealth refers to a medical visit where a video call takes place between a patient and doctor or Nurse Practitioner, which allows the patient to receive medical care.
A telehealth visit is a way for patients to receive non-emergency medical care at home and to avoid the inconvenience and discomfort of a trip to a doctor’s office, urgent care, or a hospital. The patient will also avoid spending time in a waiting room where there is the danger of exposure to the virus, the flu, or other infection.
Many insurance companies provide reimbursement for telehealth visits. Additionally, Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, and Blue Cross / Blue Shield reimburse for this service.
The only prerequisite is for the patient to have access to a smart-phone or computer. The doctor or nurse practitioner will be able to fulfill all other requirements during the visit.
Care might include: diagnosis, medical advice, testing, medication adjustments, treatment options defined, advanced care conversations, and additional services like home health or hospice ordered.
Any type of emergency care would not be available. A telehealth visit would not be appropriate to address bleeding, acute chest pain, shortness of breath—anything requiring an emergency room visit.
It is optimal but not necessary for a telehealth visit to take place via video. Often a patient who does not have the technology for a video call will have a family member, neighbor, or friend who can give them the use of their smart-phone or computer for a visit.
Like an office visit, it usually lasts for between 15 and 70 minutes, depending on patient needs. The doctor or nurse practitioner performs the same functions he or she would during a face to face appointment, in the same amount of time.
Some telehealth companies require a patient to be at least 18 years old. If an adult patient is unable to communicate, it is possible to have a telehealth visit with a family member or caregiver present to speak and act on their behalf.