November 4, 2020 2:57 pm
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients are sheltering in place as much as possible and limiting their activities outside of the home. While all Magnolia Regional Health Center provider offices are open and seeing patients in person, we realize that decisions about remaining home have caused many patients to avoid scheduling healthcare appointments. This decision could cause long-term problems. To help patients get the care they need from the convenience of their own home, all MRHC practices now offer telemedicine appointments.
Telemedicine allows patients to use a computer, smartphone or tablet with an internet connection to “see” a provider for a video visit. This one-on-one visit works similarly to an in-person visit: The provider asks the patient questions about his or her health history and current medical issue, and then he or she recommends next steps, whether that is an in-person visit, instructions for home care, or over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Learn more: Watch the MRHC Telemedicine video.
How Is Telemedicine Helpful?
Telemedicine is helpful both for patients and providers alike. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is the convenience of receiving care from your own home, rather than traveling to and from a provider’s office. While it’s a great option for those who are staying close to home due to COVID-19, telemedicine is also beneficial for patients who are homebound due to transportation issues or childcare limitations, or for those who can’t take time off work to travel to a provider’s office. In that case, the patient can go to a break room or his or her car at the appointment time rather than driving to a provider’s office.
What Can Telemedicine Providers Diagnose?
Telemedicine isn’t for emergency situations, and it isn’t for patients who will need additional services during their appointment, such as laboratory work or imaging services. Telemedicine is best for patients with uncomplicated health issues, such as:
- Arthritis pain
- Behavior concerns, such as depression or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Bladder infections
- Colds and flu
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Insect bites
- Minor sports injuries, such as sprains and strains
- Pharyngitis (sore throat)
- Respiratory infections
- Skin inflammations
- Urinary tract infections
Can Telemedicine Providers Prescribe Medication?
Telemedicine providers are able to offer treatment recommendations for minor health issues. If the treatment is an over-the-counter or prescription medication, the provider can write the prescription and deliver it digitally to a pharmacy.
Does Medicare and Health Insurance Cover Telemedicine?
In an effort to expand virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare patients and many patients covered by traditional health insurance are now entitled to telehealth visits with their doctor. Virtual visits are billed at the same rate as typical doctor’s visits, which may include a copay or deductible. For now, these benefits are temporary for Medicare patients and will only last for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Patients with traditional health insurance should check with their insurance provider to learn how telehealth visits are covered and for how long that coverage will last.
Telemedicine is available at all Magnolia Regional Health Center clinics, including primary care providers’ offices. To find a primary care provider, visit care.mrhc.org/primary-care or call (662) 664-5181.
This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center