Telehealth Information for Patients

Frequently Asked Questions:

Telehealth is receiving a medical visit through videoconferencing or sometimes just a phone call with the healthcare provider in a different location from the patient. You may be familiar with videoconferencing with your family or friends through apps like FaceTime or Skype.

Whether you can do a telehealth medical visit by only telephone depends on the type of service you need and sometimes on the health insurance that you have.

Telehealth helps patients to connect with medical services for many reasons. Some reasons to use telehealth:

  • You live far away from health care providers
  • You have difficulty traveling to health care providers
  • You are responsible for child or elder care and can’t get to a health care provider
  • You are too sick to go and see a health care provider
  • You need to practice social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis

Telehealth can be used for many different types of healthcare services:

  • primary care
  • urgent care
  • prenatal care
  • counseling
  • diabetes management
  • home health care and many other services.

During this COVID-19 crisis, telehealth can be used to screen patients to see if orging or more medical services are needed. This helps keep sick patients out of crowded waiting rooms.

Telehealth can also be used many specialties like neurology, cardiology, and genetics.

Sometimes visits require a physical examination or procedure that needs to be done in-person by the healthcare provider.  These types of service are not usually done using telehealth.  Your healthcare provider will let you know if a telehealth visit is available for your health care issue.

If you are experiencing any serious or potential life-threatening symptoms, please call 911 and do not use a telehealth visit.  Some of these symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or other signs of a heart attack
  • One-sided weakness, facial drooping, or other signs of stroke
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

Telehealth videoconferencing uses secure applications to protect your health information during the visit. During the COVID-19 crisis, an app like FaceTime or Skype might be used if the secure application is not available.

The videoconferencing applications can work on computers, tablets (e.g. iPads), and smartphones. You will need an internet or cellular connection to do the videoconferencing.

Sometimes, visits can be done by just talking on the telephone. Whether you can do a telehealth medical visit by only telephone depends on the type of service you need and sometimes on the health insurance that you have.

Some medical providers use special applications that go through your on-line medical record system. Others will send you information to connect with them on-line for your visit. You can also go to services “on demand” and log onto a on-line service that will connect you to a healthcare provider when one is available.

For some families and communities that do not have devices, internet or cellular services to connect at home for telehealth, there may be places in the community set up to allow you to receive telehealth services. Please continue to check under “Who Provides Telehealth Services” for announcements about these community sites.

During this COVID-19 crisis, many doctors and other healthcare providers are using telehealth to continue medical visits for their patients. Please check under “Who Provides Telehealth Services” to see if your doctor provides this service. You can also call your doctor or healthcare provider’s office to ask if they are using telehealth.

If your doctor or other healthcare provider does not provide telehealth services or you need urgent care, you may be able to see another doctor or other healthcare provider on-line during this COVID-19 crisis using one of the services under “Who Provides Telehealth Services”.

Services by telehealth usually don’t cost more than in-person services. If you are unsure, you can call your insurance company and ask them.

During the COVID-19 crisis most insurance companies will not make you pay a co-pay, deductible, or charge co-insurance for the telehealth visit.

Call the PBTRC Help Line at (808) 956-2514.