What Is Telemedicine & How Does it Work?

Elite HRT

Written by Elite HRT on September 12, 2021

Medically reviewed by

Camille Frecking, Regulatory Affairs Specialist, MEDICAL ADVISOR

The 21st century has revolutionized a lot of things from how we communicate to how we travel. Technology has also created a big shift in the world of medicine, making health care more accessible with remote clinical services and the ability to be seen by a physician without actually going to the doctor’s office. 

Telemedicine is relatively new and misunderstood, but it is important to understand the whole picture of what telemedicine is and what it has to offer. 

Telemedicine may not work for all healthcare services, but it can help many people in different situations, such as remote monitoring by nurses or other medical professionals for chronic conditions — think a diabetes patient uses telemedicine services in real time to ask questions about an unusual blood sugar reading. 

Keep reading to learn more about what telemedicine is, what you need to do it, what kind of doctor you see via telemedicine, the benefits, and more.

What Is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is just as it sounds — a mixture of telecommunication technology and medicine. Telemedicine typically consists of an appointment with a healthcare provider via a teleconference over the computer or phone. This allows you to talk with the provider, show them any physical symptoms you may have, and discuss treatment plans over the phone. 

Many companies will have their own secure virtual platforms that you will log into to talk with the doctor. Telemedicine also consists of virtualizing other services related to a medical visit, such as pharmacy delivery and lab testing. 

Some lab testing may be done over the phone and by mail with small blood samples or urine samples; however, things like blood draws will need to be done in-office or at a local laboratory. Some medications can even be ordered online. 

What Do You Need For Telemedicine to Work?

To complete a telemedicine visit you will need specific technology features to complete your medical consultation. The main things you will need are a computer or mobile device (tablet or smartphone) that has a camera and microphone, a private space, internet, and a pair of headphones. 

The computer can either be a desktop or laptop as long as it is up to date enough for the software that you will use to stream live video. For the camera, you can use one that is built into your computer or you can use an external webcam — the important thing is that the camera’s resolution is high enough that the professional is able to complete a visual evaluation of symptoms as needed via video conferencing, such as looking at rashes your skin. A phone with a camera may work as well, but a computer may be more compatible with the telemedicine software your provider uses. 

To protect your privacy, it is important that you have a space where you can be alone. Using headphones can also be a great way to improve your privacy while taking advantage of telehealth services, where your practitioner will likely disclose personal information like your diagnosis or medical history.

If you do not have these things, there are some things you can do to borrow the equipment necessary. For example, reserving a private room in a library or at your school or work may be a good option both for borrowing a microphone/camera-enabled computer and having a private space to complete your appointment. Your doctor may also have some health resources if you are needing assistance with the use of telemedicine over in-person visits. 

What Kind of Doctor Can You See Via Telemedicine?

Telemedicine can span a wide array of different healthcare visits. The appointments that typically happen via telemedicine should not require a thorough exam of physical symptoms that require palpation (i.e. the doctor physically feeling a body part for examination, such as feeling a swollen ankle), percussion, or extensive auscultation (the doctor listening to the body with a stethoscope). 

These telemedicine visits are most helpful in appointments that are mostly about remote patient monitoring, such as having a discussion about a new prescription or following up about symptoms that were evaluated in-person. 

The three main types of appointments are mental health, physical health, and specialist visits. 

Mental Health

Access to mental health services can be difficult when some insurances do not cover them or when you do not have a provider in your area. Many mental health providers have made the transition to online appointments since they can be more affordable and can be scheduled to accommodate your schedule and location. 

Telemedicine mental health visits can be a great way to feel comfortable in your home or a safe space and have access to a mental health professional. Mental health visits based on talk therapy are best to be done via telemedicine versus other types of visits. 

The one downside to having these visits via telemedicine is that not all insurance plans are covering popular mental telehealth services, such as Better Help, a service where you can message your provider through a mobile app and schedule appointments for phone calls or video calls as desired. 

Physical Health

A typical doctor’s visit can also be done online; however, follow-up visits or sick visits may be the best type of visits to have over the computer. Through these appointments, you can describe the symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor may also teach you how to take your vital signs with at-home equipment, such as taking your pulse, your temperature, and even your blood pressure. 

Follow-up appointments are also great to have via telemedicine so that you can touch base about how treatments are going, create plans of action, and even make adjustments for medications. You can also have medical education sessions with a health educator or dietician to further improve your health outcomes.

Specialists

Many people have to go to a specialist doctor that has important knowledge on a specific topic. Some examples of a specialist are the cardiologist, endocrinologist, and hormone replacement specialist. 

Because many doctors may not have this specialty knowledge, it can be difficult to get an appointment with specialists since they may be very busy and not physically be near you.

By having these specialist appointments online via a telemedicine consultation, the office can fit in more people, and you will not have to drive to go to the appointment, making it easier to find time in your schedule. 

Is Telemedicine Safe?

Your health is a very sensitive topic and something that deserves to be protected. With that being said telemedicine can be very safe and make you feel like your health information is well protected. 

The first thing that is done to protect your privacy is to have computer software that can only be accessed by you and the provider. There are network security professionals that ensure no one can just “hack” into your meeting. 

Also, the platform and appointment can only be logged into using your special log-in. 

The next thing done is to ensure you and the provider are in a private location where others will not interrupt or overhear. 

Finally, telemedicine visits have to abide by the same laws and regulations set forward by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that keeps your information privately between you and your provider. 

How Does Telemedicine Work With Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Elite HRT has made hormone replacement therapy, nutraceuticals, and lipotropics accessible through telemedicine. The process combines telemedicine with local health care service facilities and providers. The process goes through a series of preliminary testing, consultation, using an online pharmacy, and continuing with ongoing testing and appointments. 

Preliminary Testing

The preliminary testing phase will begin after you complete an intake form with your health history and current experience of symptoms. If appropriate we will recommend that you complete a blood or urine test to assess your hormone levels at a local lab, done by your primary care physician or endocrinologist. You will also be instructed to get a physical done by your primary healthcare provider to assess your well-being and talk about the symptoms you are experiencing to rule out possible serious causes of hormone imbalance. 

Consultation

After initial testing, you will meet with an Elite HRT specialist that will help to create a comprehensive treatment plan via a telemedicine visit. After going through your questions, concerns, lab results, and physical exam results, there will be a good understanding of your needs. 

We understand the latest research and the best techniques to create a comprehensive treatment plan that will help to maximize your benefits and minimize side effects. 

Online Pharmacy

When the treatment plan has been agreed upon, it is likely that certain medications will be prescribed. These medications may be picked up from a regular pharmacy, but there is another option that can make it more convenient to get your medications delivered straight to your door. 

By using an online pharmacy associated with Elite HRT, your medication can be delivered promptly to your doorstep without you even having to leave your home. The majority of your telemedicine process can be completed from the comfort of your own home. 

Ongoing Testing and Appointments

Once you begin your regimen, it will be very important to continue ongoing testing to measure your hormone levels and ensure the treatment is working correctly. If adjustments need to be made they can be done at these follow-up appointments. You will also discuss any symptoms you are experiencing to see what can be done to make this experience more enjoyable and improve your quality of life. 

Conclusion

Telemedicine has revolutionized the way that medicine has been done. It has made it easy to have a doctor’s appointment in your own home between chores or even your office between meetings.

Elite HRT offers hormone replacement therapy services in a way that is effective, affordable, and convenient for almost anyone that needs it. 

Have questions about telemedicine? Get in touch with us at Elite HRT here

Sources:

What’s the difference between telemedicine and telehealth?

Benefits of Telemedicine

​​Introduction to telehealth for behavioral health care