Remote medical care has become increasingly popular the past few years. Known broadly as "telehealth," it offers patients a way of seeking care from physicians using the Internet, wireless technology, and the telephone if needed. There are around 200 networks currently available, and if you're thinking about giving it a go, here are five situations that can warrant seeking care from an online health practitioner.
You're Out of Town
If you've never become sick or gotten injured while out of town, consider yourself to be among the lucky minority. According to a recent study, 63% of travelers suffer an ailment while out of town, from sunburns all the way to motion sickness, allergies, and food poisoning. If that's not enough, it ends up costing up to 33.4% more of your total vacation costs to treat these ailments, cutting into your vacation expenses.
Some travelers are able to see a doctor in person while in a different city, but you may not have this option for several reasons:
- You don't have your car with you
- You're not an established patient anywhere
- You're out of town alone and too sick to drive
- You're hesitant to navigate around a strange city
- You're in an area with those that don't speak your native language
While these instances may be rare, they are good and valid reasons for seeking an online physician who can diagnose and treat your illness or injury.
You Get Sick Easily
It's not uncommon to walk into the waiting area of a doctor's office and be greeted by a roomful of coughing, sneezing patients. And for most people with a strong immune system, this generally isn't an issue.
If you tend to get squeamish around the sick, or if your immune system isn't up to par from a preexisting condition or an illness, traveling to a clinic and exposing yourself to other illnesses may be something you'd rather avoid. When you can seek care from the comfort of your own home, and get the added bonus of prescriptions called in, you may enjoy not having to worry about compromising your own health in the process.
You Suffer From Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder classified by debilitating panic when one is in a place where they feel trapped or that escape is impossible. Patients who suffer from agoraphobia may avoid many public places, particularly a doctor's office.
Physicians that offer online care are a great alternative for the person who suffers with agoraphobia. And having this option is a must when the alternative is no care at all. Often, many physicians offer online treatment for the agoraphobia itself to cater to these patients.
You Need Privacy
Sometimes, embarrassing situations may arise for which you'd rather not go to your primary care physician. Maybe he's an old family friend, or perhaps she's a member of your church. While no one should feel ashamed to see their doctor for a particular ailment, there may simply be times that you prefer privacy and discretion. Examples of these times include suspecting that you have an STD or getting help for a condition that's arisen due to you going against medical advice. You just can't bring yourself to admit this to your regular doctor.
Rather than skipping the doctor's visit altogether and risking your health, an online consultation with a physician you don't know can put your mind at ease while also giving you the treatment you need.
You're In a Hurry
Recent studies have shown that the average wait time at the doctor's office is just over 19 minutes. This isn't an exceptionally long time to sit in the waiting room, but once you factor in the time it takes you to make the appointment, wait until the scheduled appointment time, then drive to the clinic, you could have already consulted with a doctor online.
Most doctors or companies that offer online care require nothing more than registering and looking through the list of available doctors, which can be done fairly quickly. This may be an advantage to someone whose time is limited.
Be advised that online physician care is not meant to be a substitute for routine care. Most medical professionals recommend physicals be done in person every 1-3 years so your doctor can perform a hands-on exam and do lab work as needed. But, clearly, online consults have their time and place.