Doctor conducting a telehealth appointment with a patient

Other names used for online doctor’s appointments may include telemedicine/telehealth, virtual doctor’s visit, remote patient monitoring, EHealth, or MHealth.

Online doctor’s appointments have become more common since the COVID-19 pandemic required more people to stay home.

Doctor’s offices now routinely offer remote appointments which can save patients time, can help with quick questions and answers, and also service rural areas where certain medical specialties are not located nearby.

Online doctor’s appointments may be referred to several ways:

  • Telemedicine/telehealth
  • Virtual doctor’s visit
  • Remote patient monitoring
  • EHealth
  • MHealth (specifically refers to services offered via a mobile device)

Many insurance companies will cover online doctor’s appointments. Check with your insurance to see what is covered.

When Is an Online Doctor’s Appointment Used?

There are some situations in which an online doctor’s appointment can be useful:

  • Follow-up appointments
    • Doctors can check in with patients and make adjustments to medications or other care
    • Medication management for patients who have chronic conditions that require prescription medication
  • Counseling and education
  • Behavioral health services
    • These are usually talk-based and do not require a physical examination
  • Health screening
    • With COVID and other transmissible illnesses, telehealth can help reduce the potential for spreading infection
  • Rural specialty care
    • Many rural settings do not have specialty medical providers locally
    • This allows rural patients to connect with a hospital or health care provider hundreds of miles away

Online doctor’s appointments would not be appropriate for all kinds of doctor visits, such as:

  • New patient visits
  • Conditions for which a physical examination is required
  • Post-op care
  • When certain medical procedures are needed

What Is Needed for an Online Doctor’s Appointment?

An online doctor’s appointment requires a high-speed internet connection. In addition, patients should have:

  • Video access through a computer, tablet, or smartphone
  • Any app used by the healthcare provider to connect, which should be downloaded before the appointment
  • A mobile phone or a landline phone as a backup option if the internet connection is lost during the virtual visit

Reviewed on 8/24/2022


Image source: iStock Images


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