Telemedicine — also called “telehealth” — is the practice of administering medical services such as diagnosis and monitoring remotely. Real-time, audio, and video communication tools connect physicians and patients in different locations.
• Verbal/audio-only and virtual check-ins via patient portals can be accessed via the Internet, text and other messaging technologies.
• Remote patient-monitoring tools such as blood pressure monitors, Bluetooth-enabled digital scales, and other wearable devices can communicate data from patients directly to their doctors.
Minor telemedicine visits such as check-ins to see if a patient is taking his or her medication can be conducted via telephone, but most providers prefer to use video for the kind of checkup that would ordinarily be conducted during an office visit. That way the doctor can actually observe the patient, and note such factors as the color of his or her skin or the condition of an injury.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, several video platforms that are able to meet patient confidentiality requirements had been approved for this use. These include Skype for Business, Updox, VSee, Zoom, Doxy.me, Zoom for Healthcare, and Google Meet.
And since the pandemic, the government has approved other video platforms such as Apple Facetime, Skype, and Facebook Messenger video chat. Physicians are urged to enable the encryption and privacy modes on these services.
As a patient, you may need to download one of these platforms ahead of your session, or you may simply receive a code from your doctor that you can input onto your Internet browser for an instant connection.
There are also companies that can install various medical-monitoring devices in your home, and arrange for your doctor to be connected to them.
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