How to access a virtual doctor?
Virtual doctor visits, where you talk to a doctor through video or phone, can be a time-saving and money-saving way to get medical help. Many insurance plans cover these visits. To use virtual doctors, you first need to check if your insurance covers it. Then, you choose a telehealth provider, make an account, schedule an appointment, and attend it.
You know those days when you’re really sick, but you just can’t bring yourself to get up and see a doctor?
Traditional doctor visits can be time-consuming and inconvenient, especially when you’re feeling under the weather. However, technological advancements have paved the way for virtual doctor visits, allowing patients to receive medical care from the comfort of their own homes using video calls or phone consultations.
Accessing a virtual doctor can provide numerous benefits, such as saving time, reducing travel expenses, and even potentially improving overall patient care. Whether you’re in need of a routine check-up or seeking medical advice for a non-emergency condition, understanding how to access a virtual doctor can greatly simplify your healthcare experience.
Most insurance providers give you access to telehealth services for free, but not all providers are the same! This article will guide you through the various options available and provide you with the necessary information to access a virtual doctor with ease.
What is a telehealth doctor?
A telehealth doctor, often referred to as a virtual doctor or telemedicine physician, is a licensed medical professional who provides healthcare services remotely through digital communication channels.
Channels that virtual doctors use:
- Phone calls
- Video calls
- Secure messaging platforms
Telehealth services have gained immense popularity due to their ability to connect patients with qualified doctors regardless of geographic location. This is particularly beneficial for individuals in rural areas, those with limited mobility, or those seeking immediate medical advice.
Telehealth appointments cover a wide range of medical issues, including routine check-ups, minor ailments, mental health consultations, and follow-up appointments. Patients can discuss symptoms, receive medical advice, and even get prescriptions without leaving the comfort of their homes.
Are virtual doctors covered by insurance?
Yes! Many insurance companies have recognized the value of telehealth services and now offer coverage for virtual doctor consultations. As healthcare costs continue to rise, telehealth provides a cost-effective solution for both patients and insurers. It eliminates the need for unnecessary in-person visits, reduces travel time and expenses, and minimizes the burden on physical healthcare facilities.
Insurance companies understand that promoting telehealth can lead to early intervention and prevention, ultimately resulting in improved health outcomes for their policyholders. However, the extent of coverage may vary between insurance plans, so it’s essential to review your policy or contact your insurance provider to understand the specifics of your telehealth benefits.
|Carrier||Telehealth Services Covered|
|Manulife||TELUS Health Virtual Care App|
|Sun Life||Lumino Health Virtual Care|
|Desjardins||TELUS Health Virtual Care App|
|GMS||TELUS Health Virtual Care App|
Step One: Check Your Insurance Coverage
Before seeking a virtual doctor, review your health insurance policy to determine if telehealth services are covered. Many insurance companies now offer coverage for virtual doctor visits, but the extent of coverage may vary. Familiarize yourself with any deductibles or specific telehealth providers recommended by your insurance.
Step Two: Choose a Telehealth Provider
Select a reputable telehealth provider that is accepted by your insurance company. Some insurance companies have partnerships with specific telehealth platforms, while others may accept a range of options. Research different telehealth providers, read reviews, and ensure that the platform offers the medical services you need.
Step Three: Register and Set Up an Account
Once you’ve chosen a telehealth provider, you’ll need to create an account on their platform. This typically involves providing your basic personal and medical information. Make sure to use a secure password and keep your login credentials confidential.
Step Four: Schedule a Virtual Appointment
Log into your telehealth account and schedule a virtual appointment with a doctor. Depending on the platform, you might be able to choose a specific doctor or be matched with one based on your medical needs. Select a convenient time for the appointment and ensure you have a stable internet connection and a device with a camera and microphone.
Step Five: Attend the Virtual Consultation
On the scheduled day and time, log into your telehealth account and join the virtual appointment. The doctor will initiate the video call, and you’ll be able to see and talk to the doctor in real-time. During the consultation, discuss your symptoms, medical history, and any concerns you have. The doctor will provide medical advice, recommend treatments, and, if necessary, prescribe medication.
Keep in mind that telehealth appointments are similar to in-person appointments in terms of confidentiality and professionalism. Be prepared to provide accurate information to the doctor, and don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have during the consultation. After the appointment, any prescriptions or medical advice provided will be documented in your telehealth account, allowing you to refer back to it as needed.
Is there an app to see a doctor?
Some telehealth platforms have an app while some require you to have a desktop computer for your virtual visit. When choosing a telehealth app, consider factors such as the availability of doctors, the ease of scheduling appointments, the variety of medical services offered, and the compatibility with your insurance coverage. It’s important to ensure that the app is reputable, secure, and compliant with privacy regulations to protect your personal and medical information. Take a look at the reviews in the app store for that particular telehealth app—it may provide insight into the best provider for your healthcare needs.
Can a virtual doctor see me if I’m out of the country/province?
Whether you can see a virtual Canadian doctor while you’re out of the country depends on a few factors.
Telehealth Platform’s Availability: Some telehealth platforms might have restrictions based on geographic locations. They may only offer services within certain countries or regions. Before traveling, check with the telehealth platform you intend to use to see if their services are available in the country you’ll be visiting.
Licensing and Regulations: Healthcare providers, including virtual doctors, are often licensed to practice within specific jurisdictions. If you’re out of the country, a virtual doctor’s ability to provide medical care might be limited by their licensing and the local regulations of the country you’re in. Some telehealth platforms might have partnerships with international providers to offer services across borders, but this can vary.
Insurance Coverage: If you’re using telehealth services that are covered by your health insurance, it’s important to understand whether your insurance will extend to virtual appointments while you’re abroad. Some insurance plans might have limitations on coverage outside of the country, while others might have provisions for emergency medical care only. Contact your insurance provider to clarify the extent of your coverage for telehealth services while traveling.
Legal and Regulatory Considerations: Different countries have varying laws and regulations related to telehealth and the practice of medicine. Some countries might have restrictions on providing medical services across borders, while others might have specific requirements for virtual healthcare providers operating within their jurisdiction. It’s advisable to research the legal and regulatory landscape of the country you’re visiting to ensure you’re compliant.
When to see a doctor in person
While telehealth doctor services offer unparalleled convenience, there are certain limitations to consider. Telehealth is most effective for non-emergency medical situations, such as minor illnesses, prescription refills, and routine follow-ups.
You should see a doctor in person:
- In emergency situations
- In cases requiring physical examinations
- If you don’t have a reliable internet connection or access to the telehealth platform
Additionally, telehealth consultations may vary in quality based on factors such as the patient’s internet connection, the clarity of communication, and the effectiveness of the digital platform being used. Some medical conditions might require more comprehensive assessments that can only be conducted in person. It’s crucial for both patients and medical professionals to recognize these limitations and use telehealth appropriately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get medication without seeing a doctor in person?
Generally, yes, but there are considerations. Telehealth doctors, like in-person physicians, can prescribe a wide range of medications, including those for chronic conditions, allergies, and common illnesses. However, the ability to prescribe medications depends on various factors, including the doctor’s assessment of your condition, your medical history, and the specific laws and regulations in your state or country. Some medications, particularly controlled substances, may have stricter regulations for prescription via telehealth. In such cases, doctors might require an in-person visit or additional documentation before prescribing certain medications.
- What can a virtual doctor diagnose?
Virtual doctors, also known as telehealth or telemedicine doctors, can diagnose and treat a wide range of non-emergency medical conditions and health concerns. Here are some examples of conditions that virtual doctors can diagnose:
- Common Illnesses: Virtual doctors can diagnose and provide treatment recommendations for common illnesses such as colds, flu, sinus infections, strep throat, and urinary tract infections.
- Skin Conditions: Skin issues like rashes, eczema, acne, and minor allergic reactions can often be diagnosed through virtual appointments. You might be asked to describe the appearance and location of the skin problem.
- Mental Health Concerns: Many virtual doctors include mental health professionals who can diagnose and provide support for conditions like anxiety, depression, stress, and mood disorders.
- Allergies: Virtual doctors can discuss your symptoms and medical history to diagnose allergies and recommend appropriate treatment or management strategies.
- Respiratory Infections: Conditions like bronchitis, mild asthma issues, and other respiratory infections can often be diagnosed based on symptoms and medical history.
- Gastrointestinal Issues: Virtual doctors can help diagnose and provide advice for conditions like acid reflux, indigestion, mild food poisoning, and gastroenteritis.
- Minor Injuries: For minor injuries like sprains, strains, minor burns, and small cuts that don’t require immediate attention, virtual doctors can provide guidance on treatment and recovery.
- Prescription Refills: If you have an ongoing prescription for a chronic condition, a virtual doctor can often refill your prescription after assessing your medical history and current condition.
- Women’s Health Concerns: Virtual doctors can provide advice and guidance on issues related to women’s health, such as menstrual cycle irregularities, contraception, and urinary tract infections.
- Follow-Up Appointments: Virtual doctors are well-suited for follow-up appointments to discuss treatment progress, review lab results, and make adjustments to your care plan.
Do I have to pay to see a virtual doctor?
It depends, but usually, you don’t. Many health insurance plans now offer coverage for virtual doctor appointments as part of their telehealth services. The extent of coverage can vary depending on your insurance provider and the specific plan you have. Some plans might fully cover virtual appointments, while others might require a deductible for that service. It’s important to review your insurance policy or contact your insurance provider to understand the telehealth benefits available to you.
Connect with a licensed insurance advisor
Looking for a better health insurance plan that covers online doctor’s appointments? Schedule a call with one of our expert insurance advisors for one-on-one advice. The conversation has no obligations to buy—let’s just start with a conversation about your insurance needs. Our health and dental insurance agents will ask you a few questions, then shop with Canada’s best insurance companies to get you the best price on health insurance.
- Many insurance plans cover virtual doctor appointments
- In emergencies or for physical exams, seeing a doctor in person is recommended
- You usually don't have to pay to see a doctor online, if the service is covered by your insurance company
- Some provinces have free online doctor appointments