My First Experience with Telemedicine (and Why You Should Give it a Try)

By February 28, 2020December 31st, 2020Employers Innovations in Health Care
A woman consults with her physician remotely via tablet, whole holding a bottle of pills

Recently, I came down with a sore throat and a cough that I just could not shake. I went to an urgent care center, but a few days later, I still had symptoms and I needed relief. Unfortunately, it was 11 p.m. and my primary care physician (PCP) was not available. So, I decided to try out my telemedicine benefit through MDLIVE. I had never used it before, but I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to try it out. Luckily, I had already registered my account, so all I had to do was list my symptoms. I also uploaded a throat selfie, so the doctor could take a look. (Then, of course, my 12-year-old daughter needed to take a throat selfie as well.)

Convenience That Can’t Be Beat

I chose to have the next available doctor call me instead of waiting on hold. I received a call back in no time. You also have the option to video chat with the doctor or just talk to them on the phone. I chose to talk to the doctor on the phone.

The doctor I spoke with (who also happened to be the sweetest doctor I have ever spoken to) diagnosed my symptoms and prescribed me an antibiotic and a cough suppressant.

While I was on the phone with him, I remembered that the pharmacy I registered my account with wasn’t open 24/7, so while still on the phone, I changed my pharmacy to one that was open 24/7 but still close to my home. As soon as I hung up, I got a call from the pharmacy that my prescription was ready. When I went to pick up my prescription, the cough suppressant wasn’t there. Luckily, I was able to text the doctor I had just spoken with and he called it in quickly! I picked up my antibiotic and cough suppressant, headed back home, took my medicine, and went to bed. In the morning, I felt significantly better and made my way into work.

All in all, my experience with telemedicine only took about 15 minutes!

Common uses for telemedicine

Telemedicine is a great resource when you are dealing with minor illnesses or conditions such as:

  • The common cold
  • The flu
  • Allergies
  • Ear problems
  • Insect bites/rash
  • Pink eye

What to expect

If you’ve never used telemedicine before, it’s helpful to know what to expect. On a telemedicine call, providers can:

  • Diagnose your condition
  • Provide a treatment plan
  • Prescribe medications
  • Diagnose children
  • Send notes to your PCP

As a telemedicine patient, you can:

  • Upload photos of rashes and other symptoms
  • Schedule an appointment and ask a provider to call you back instead of waiting on the phone

Registration Made Easy

I recommend registering your MDLIVE account ahead of time so that when you need to use it, it’s ready to go. In fact, registering on MDLIVE couldn’t be easier with their new virtual assistant, Sophie, who simulates a text conversation and walks you through the registration steps. Registering only takes five to ten minutes, depending on how much detail you want to include. I first registered via text using Sophie to get my username and password and then later logged into the website on my computer to provide more details and link my PCP and pharmacy information.

As an account executive, I promote telemedicine to my employer groups by hosting live seminars and sign-up promotions where we meet with a group of employees and have an open dialogue about telemedicine. We also help people register online. Telemedicine is a safe, secure, and convenient way to access immediate care in the comfort of your own home or office. You could even call on your lunch break if you cannot get in to see your PCP.

Maximizing My Benefit

I have a high-deductible health plan, so telemedicine is a convenient and affordable option for me. I find that the biggest hurdle is remembering you have the benefit available to you! Because of this, I found it helpful to put the MDLIVE app on the home screen of my phone as a reminder.

I hope my experience has encouraged you to give telemedicine a shot the next time you’re in a pinch for care. Once you try it out, I think you’ll be impressed with the quality and convenience.

Based on the current health care environment, most health plans offer telemedicine options. Check with your employer or call the customer service number on the back of your health plan ID card to ask what telemedicine options your plan offers.

Currently Independence is covering Telemedicine services for PCP and specialist visits with members’ existing doctors. Independence is also covering virtual visits for physical, occupational and speech therapies.

 

Tara Kelly

About Tara Kelly

Tara joined Independence Blue Cross in 2005 and has 13 years of experience in the insurance industry. In 2012, Tara joined the Broker Care Center, a dedicated service area assisting large consultant firms. She moved into a sales role as an Account Support Representative in 2015. In 2017, Tara was promoted to an Associate Account Executive and continues to support large local and national clients.

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