Telemedicine: Access to a Doctor Anytime, Anywhere

Growing Awareness, Use and Acceptance of Telemedicine Options in Upstate NY

Smart phones are the twenty-first century’s digital assistant. Not only do we use them to communicate with people around the world, but you can also use them for shopping, socializing and even banking. Did you know that you can also have a doctor’s appointment right from your phone or tablet? It’s an app for your smart phone that gives you access to a telemedicine physician from wherever you happen to be.

Remote medical care, known as telemedicine, is when the patient and the provider are in two different locations, but linked by telephone or a secure two-way video connection on a smart phone, computer or tablet.

Without a resource like Telemedicine, these patients would end up using an ER or Urgent Care when they can’t get to their primary doctor. Telemedicine allows people who are away from home to see a qualified physician when they need to address a minor medical condition for themselves or their children.

Ideally, patients should receive medical care from their primary care physician in person. The patient’s second-best option is a telemedicine visit with his/her physician. When neither of those two options is available, a telemedicine visit with another provider who can address minor medical conditions is acceptable.

Examples of minor medical conditions that could be addressed with a telemedicine visit:

  • Sinus Infections & Sore Throats
  • Nausea, Constipation & Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Joint Aches & Pains
  • Ear infections
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Skin disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Pneumonia

Telemedicine providers can write prescriptions and send them to the nearest pharmacy. Health insurers in New York State are mandated to cover telemedicine visits by members who are enrolled in their commercial products. While telemedicine services are available to anyone with or without health insurance, most health insurers have a recommended in-network telemedicine provider.

Telemedicine is even expanding into areas like behavioral health. Telemedicine is helping patients see their psychiatrists for medication management. Patients can get quicker access to address their behavioral health needs.

The top behavioral health conditions for which members sought telemedicine treatment were:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Childhood/adolescence disorders
  • Attention disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

Before you leave home, contact your health insurer using the customer care phone number on the back of your member ID card and ask which telemedicine provider they suggest you use. Then, download the app to your smart phone and open an account so that you can be a few clicks away from medical care when you need it.  

Nobody wants to spend an absorbent amount of time sitting at an urgent care center or in a hospital emergency room. When the family is away and somebody feels under the weather, a telemedicine visit can make getting a doctor’s opinion easy.