During the cold and flu season, many of us will err on the side of caution and seek a physician’s intervention for persistent symptoms or for a disruptive cold. But getting an appointment with your family medicine doctor can take a week or more and can be prohibitively costly depending on insurance, deductibles, and copays. And an urgent care doctor is a good alternative if you don’t mind a physician who doesn’t understand your medical history and you’re able to devote part of a day to a waiting room. There is another alternative: a doctor on demand service.
What exactly are doctor on demand services (also called telehealth and telemedicine)? And are there physicians and specialists able to treat you via the new trend of telemedicine providers in Florida? Read on for a brief primer on doctor on demand services and treatment.
What Is a Doctor on Demand?
Doctor on demand, telehealth, or telemedicine services are healthcare services, examinations, and sharing of information remotely, via video or other telecommunication resources. It makes it easy to consult with a physician — often your own physician — without the impediments of scheduling, transit, and other inconveniences. Patients using doctor on demand services are able to receive remote clinical care with qualified physicians. Many use doctor on demand services for initial consultations, advice, care direction, and for the many benefits of ready access to expert information.
Whether an illness is keeping you away from work and other important duties or not, a visit to the doctor or the urgent medical care clinic certainly will. And hospital emergency rooms will be much more time-consuming. And often, an illness makes it impossible or at least extremely arduous to travel to an appointment. Being exposed to poor weather during cold season can increase the length and severity of illness, mitigating whatever benefits come from visiting your family doctor or nearby walk-in clinics. The initial and prevailing purpose of telehealth services is patient convenience. Doctor on demand is literally that: a doctor on demand whenever they’re needed, offering consultation and other valuable resources to patients in the comfort of their homes.
It’s a Good Starting Point for Complex Treatments
Many people are suffering from illnesses and maladies that they are hesitant to bring to their family doctor or seek treatment for at all. Patients who need an initial consultation in pursuit of alcoholism treatment, for example, or other private matters like low testosterone treatment, addiction, methadone and pain management, or who are seeking medical marijuana may prefer the non-invasive, private consultations offered by telehealth providers. Especially for alcoholism, a telemedicine consultation can be an effective starting point: for many addiction treatments, detoxification is required before rehabilitation can begin. A telehealth provider can be a partner in that difficult process.
It Saves Money
It saves money not only for the patients using the service but also for the clinicians providing them. Patients who can receive expert care without interrupting work schedules benefit and physicians aren’t committed to extended examinations that can often result in cancellations. Frequently, these consultations can cost less than visits to walk-in clinics. And many physicians use telehealth appointments to reach new patients away from regular office hours.
It Saves Time
Often, explaining the symptoms of a seasonal illness to a physician is all that’s required to get an accurate diagnosis and begin a course of treatment. With the conventional model, this requires scheduling an appointment, taking time away from work or family, traveling to the doctor, waiting for an appointment, having nurses record vital signs, finally seeing a doctor, and then traveling back to work or home. And visiting an urgent care clinic only spares the scheduling. For a chronic or emergent illness, this process can be repeated a handful of times with the traditional method.
This cold and flu season, the best medical advice is intuitive: get a flu shot, keep warm and insulated from the cold, take vitamin supplements, keep hygienic and clean, avoid those who are already ill, and keep healthy habits. If you should need health advice beyond that, or treatment if you become ill, consider skipping the trip to a physician and learning more about telemedicine today.