Among the many ways the COVID pandemic has influenced healthcare delivery is the pandemic’s role in pushing telehealth to the forefront. What was once a niche in American healthcare delivery has become mainstream. Yet it is still new to providers and patients. So new in fact that questions abound.
At CSI Health, a medical kiosk company, they design telehealth solutions for variety of applications. They try to anticipate the questions their customers might ask when preparing to present their solutions. Likewise, healthcare providers need to anticipate the questions their patients might ask.
To that end, here are the top five FAQs that patients are likely to pose to their healthcare providers, according to the experts at CSI Health:
1. Is telehealth an alternative to in-office visits?
This may be the most common question of all. It seems like a no-brainer to healthcare providers and their staff, but patients who don’t spend a lot of time online may not know the answer.
Yes, telehealth is an alternative to in-office visits by design. It is intended to facilitate healthcare delivery without requiring patients and providers to meet in-person. Where telehealth is inappropriate, there may be no other alternatives to meeting with the doctor face-to-face.
2. Can my condition be treated virtually?
An extension of the previous question is whether a patient’s condition can be treated virtually. This is a good question. It is also a legitimate one. Telehealth is not appropriate in every circumstance. There are times when achieving the best possible outcome requires a face-to-face visit.
3. How can I schedule a telehealth visit?
Given that telehealth is still fairly new to most consumers, it is not unusual to field questions about scheduling visits. How patients go about it depends on a variety of circumstances. The simplest scenario involves the patient scheduling a telehealth visit with their primary care provider.
In all likelihood, the provider offers an online portal through which patients can access all sorts of information. On that portal is a digital tool for scheduling a telehealth visit. When the time for the visit arrives, the patient accesses it through the same portal.
4. Does my insurance cover a telehealth visit?
Although this question is asked quite frequently, it is one that healthcare providers might not be able to answer. It really depends on the patient’s insurance carrier. When the carrier is a well-known entity that a provider’s office is familiar with, office staff might be able to offer an answer. Otherwise, office staff might not know.
Regardless of the carrier, it is always a good idea to encourage patients to contact their insurance companies. Letting patients and their carriers work things out among themselves reduces headaches for the provider. It also eliminates the risk of accidentally giving the wrong answer.
5. How much will a telehealth visit cost me?
This final question can be answered in any number of ways. If a patient has insurance coverage for telehealth visits, the chances are pretty high that the standard co-pay still applies. This is something a patient would need to check on with their carrier.
Healthcare providers can offer a straight-up answer to patients without insurance. A standard fee is charged for telehealth visits that do not require any types of tests or special diagnostics. That is the fee patients pay.
There are undoubtedly many more telehealth questions fielded by healthcare providers. That’s not a bad thing. Asking questions is how patients figure it out. The more providers can do to help them, the faster patients acclimate themselves to virtual visits. And the faster that happens, the better it is for providers.