With new laws and regulations, many health visits can now be conducted virtually. These video-facilitated meetings allow patients to discuss concerns and symptoms with their healthcare providers from the comfort of their own homes. There are some limitations when seeing a primary care doctor online/virtually, but we’ll discuss scenarios when virtual visits may be beneficial, or when an in-person visit is warranted.
Different Types of Telemedicine
Telemedicine uses technology for healthcare professionals to provide medical and diagnostic services to patients. Patients can use their smartphones, tablets, or computers to visit different healthcare providers virtually.
There are different types of telehealth visits that primary care doctors can provide, such as:
Virtual urgent care is appropriate for non-emergencies, or unexpected health visits for minor illnesses or concerns. During virtual urgent care visits, providers can prescribe medications if needed to send to the patient’s preferred pharmacy.
Continuing care addresses chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, arthritis, migraines, and more. By continuing visits from home, patients can receive counseling for these conditions through longer or more frequent visits than an in-office setting can provide.
Preventive care, when conducted virtually, is limited to conversations and questionnaires. This includes evaluations for anxiety, depression, or other mental and behavioral health concerns, or to discuss referrals to specialists.
Within this scope, it’s important to distinguish what can be treated virtually versus what should be addressed at a physician’s office.
Is it an Emergency?
Virtual health visits are reserved for non-emergent symptoms and conditions. Additionally, severe illness or symptoms should always be treated in person by a healthcare provider. While some urgent care cases can be treated virtually, some circumstances require patients to be seen in a clinical setting. Keep in mind that while healthcare professionals can discuss and see your symptoms and concerns via video conferencing, they cannot take your vitals or provide a full physical evaluation.
Is it a Recurring or Worsening Condition?
New, non-emergent symptoms can be addressed through an online visit with your doctor, but if they return or worsen, it’s time to be evaluated in person. Unless your condition is chronic and well-managed, any lingering or worrisome symptoms should always be evaluated in your physician’s office.
Does it Require a Physical Examination or Treatment?
Health concerns that stem from injuries should be evaluated in a healthcare setting to assess the need for radiographs or other imaging, wound closure, bloodwork, or neurological exams. Similarly, for any symptoms that require further diagnostics, it will be necessary for patients to visit their healthcare provider’s office. This also extends to routine bloodwork, yearly physicals, and worker’s compensation cases.
Healthcare providers diagnose conditions and illnesses virtually based on the patient’s history and visual presentation. Virtual visits cannot provide diagnostics that may be required to create an accurate treatment plan, such as viral and bacterial infection testing and physical palpation or examination.
What Can My Primary Care Doctor Provide Virtually?
For many patients, participating in virtual visits with their primary care doctor is both feasible and convenient. This is especially true for patients who are already established with their primary care doctor and treating chronic conditions or are experiencing mild symptoms of an illness or new condition.
Common health conditions that can be diagnosed, treated, or managed virtually include:
- Contraception methods
- Mild skin rashes or irritation
Other conditions that require an initial diagnosis through physical examination, bloodwork, or imaging, can then be managed virtually. These include:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Thyroid disorders
Meeting with your primary healthcare provider virtually offers flexibility, which is especially helpful for patients who work or care for family members at home. Visiting with your doctor from home helps alleviate stress, improves time management, and can expedite treatment. Prescriptions can be sent in at the time of your virtual visit, and home remedies can be recommended and employed right away. And, avoiding waiting for a routine visit in a lobby of ill patients will help keep you well during peak cold and flu season.
Begin Virtual Primary Care
Xpress Wellness Urgent Care offers virtual primary care visits for a variety of conditions. Get established as a virtual patient quickly and conveniently to begin your journey to overall wellness from home. Simply fill out our online form, visit with an intake coordinator to schedule your initial appointment, and connect with your provider. Virtual Primary Care Services are offered Monday-Friday, 8:00 am-8:00 pm (CST).