In-person medical appointments can seem like a huge time suck. I’m told to be at the military treatment facility 15 minutes before my appointment, but I know I'll be waiting at least 15 minutes after my appointment to be seen. Add in drive time and pharmacy time, and hours have gone by only for the doctor to put in a referral to the next physician or a prescription refill.
One positive thing that has come out of the last six months is that those of us seen on base through Tricare Prime now have the option of having a telephone appointment. And while this isn't the best choice for every appointment -- can you imagine trying to do a well-child checkup for a three-year-old over the phone? -- it is a great option for some.
If you haven't tried telehealth yet, here are six reasons you should consider it.
1. It saves time.
Time is saved in so many ways with telehealth. If you have an account on Tricare Online, you can make your appointment there, eliminating the need to sit on hold with the appointment phone line. There's no travel time, no waiting for the provider, no sitting in waiting rooms. The provider calls you when it's time for your appointment, and it's generally all done within 20 minutes.
2. It's private.
A phone call or video call can be taken anywhere you can find some privacy. You don't have to worry about taking your kids with you into an appointment or running into your spouse's boss at the clinic and them asking what's wrong. You simply address your concerns with the doctor and move on.
3. It's convenient.
How many times do you wish you could just call your doctor when you're on vacation and your kid is coming down with an ear infection or a cold. You know what it is and you know what they need, but you're hundreds of miles away from home. With telehealth, you can have an appointment from anywhere.
4. It gets results.
You may be concerned that you won't get the same level of care with a telehealth appointment, but both doctors and patients who have tried it love it. Physicians can consult with other doctors more easily, and they can collaborate on your care. And it’s reducing hospital admission rates.
5. It doesn't require time off.
Making an appointment with the doctor -- and keeping it -- can require you to take sick leave or leave without pay. A telehealth appointment can be done over a lunch break or before work hours, allowing you to keep your work responsibilities without sacrificing your health.
6. It's safe.
No one wants to be in a waiting room with sick people when they are healthy. This is always a concern during cold and flu season, and one that is easily avoidable with telehealth. Skip the waiting room and potential exposure to extra germs by leaving the in-person appointments for when they are truly necessary.
Now, how do you go about making a telehealth appointment? If you're on Tricare Prime, you can make your appointment online, input a phone number and reason for your appointment, and wait for your provider to call you.
If you see a civilian provider, check their website to see what services they offer via telehealth. Your health is important, your time is valuable and your concerns are valid. Try telehealth for your next appointment and see whether it works for you.
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