When you’re experiencing a health concern, going to the doctor’s office isn’t always feasible. Maybe you live in a healthcare desert and lack access to quality care. Or you might be underinsured or uninsured and simply can’t afford pricey, out-of-pocket healthcare services. Perhaps your schedule is so jam-packed, you can’t possibly squeeze an office visit in. But, if chatting with a medical expert was more convenient, you could easily get the help you’re looking for.
Not wanting to go to the doctor’s office shouldn’t bar you from getting the medical care you need. And luckily, in the digital age, it doesn’t have to. Advances in telehealth have allowed healthcare providers to significantly expand the services they’re able to provide online. And with more affordable, equitable access to convenient, online healthcare services, you can get professional assistance without ever leaving home.
How do you go about getting virtual assistance from a licensed and experienced healthcare provider? Here are four ways to get expert medical assistance without scheduling an office visit.
1. Schedule an Appointment With an Online Doctor
Scheduling a telehealth visit with an online doctor will allow you to get expert medical assistance for a wide variety of health concerns. According to HealthTap, Telehealth physicians can diagnose and treat acute and chronic medical conditions, and they can prescribe and refill medications, too. Online doctors can do all of this via your internet-connected device, so you can get the care you need when it’s convenient for you.
What can an online doctor treat? Generally speaking, telehealth is appropriate for non-emergent health issues that don’t require extensive in-office testing or imaging. An online doctor can:
- Provide care for mental and/or behavioral health issues
- Provide routine check-ups and follow-ups, nutrition and fitness advice, and health assessments and screenings
- Order at-home lab tests and provide you with an expert interpretation of your results
- Help you manage chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, asthma, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, and high cholesterol
- Prescribe medications for new or existing health conditions or allergies
- Help you manage your medications and order refills
- Provide care for sexual health concerns, including sexually transmitted infections and male and female sexual issues
- Provide care for several types of infections and skin conditions
- Provide you with a referral to a specialist for testing and treatment
A telehealth doctor can also help you get on birth control or change your birth control prescription. Treatment for minor injuries like sprains and strains is also available through an online physician. If you’re dealing with symptoms of a cold, flu, or COVID-19, scheduling a virtual doctor visit is an excellent way to help get yourself well.
For urgent care concerns, you can chat with a U.S.-based doctor via video or text 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For primary care visits, you can select the provider of your choice and schedule a video call at a time that’s convenient for you.
2. Browse a Library of Physician-Answered Medical Questions
If you’re dealing with a health concern but aren’t quite ready to see a doctor, you can get expert advice by perusing an online library of medical questions. These types of libraries allow people just like you to ask questions about their health concerns. When someone asks a question, a licensed physician provides an answer and expert treatment recommendations.
You can browse by health-related topic or any of the symptoms you may be experiencing to see if your concern requires medical care. If it does, and it’s something that an online doctor can diagnose and treat, you can schedule a virtual visit.
3. Submit a Written Health Question for Physician Review
If you can’t find satisfactory advice in an online library of other peoples’ questions or want an answer tailored specifically to you, you can ask your own questions. Medical question-and-answer websites allow you to submit anonymous health queries for physician review. Once you’ve submitted your question, a licensed doctor will answer it within hours and, if necessary, provide you with treatment recommendations.
After getting your questions answered, you’ll know whether your medical concern can be addressed virtually. Some conditions may require testing, evaluations, and imaging that can’t be completed online, so be aware that you may need to schedule a future office visit.
4. Take Advantage of Online Symptom Checkers
Artificial intelligence has come a long way in recent years, and the healthcare industry has adopted doctor-trained AI to help patients get expert medical advice quickly. In just a few minutes, healthcare AI can help you assess any symptoms you’re experiencing and provide you with recommendations for medical care.
To use an AI symptom checker, you’ll start by answering a series of questions about the symptoms you have. Based on the information you provide, the symptom checker may ask you further questions to gather more information about your health concern. You’ll also need to enter information about your health history to get an accurate, preliminary diagnosis.
Once you’ve entered all the required information, the symptom checker will present you with a collection of possible diagnoses. It will also provide you with a probability of each possible condition based on your answers. You can easily learn more about each diagnosis in the list by clicking on its name and reading the associated information. If you feel any of the diagnoses on the list are accurate based on your symptoms, you can move forward with the system’s care suggestions.
Keep in mind that online symptom checkers cannot provide you with personalized medical advice because healthcare is highly nuanced. If you’re concerned about a symptom, it’s in your best interest to schedule a visit with an online doctor just to be safe. An AI symptom checker will also prompt you to seek emergency medical care if your symptoms appear to be associated with an emergent condition.
Getting expert medical assistance shouldn’t always require a lengthy trip to the doctor’s office or astronomical out-of-pocket costs. Affordable, personalized healthcare should be available to everyone, and telemedicine providers are working diligently to make that a reality. If you’d like to access convenient and cost-effective medical and wellness care from the comfort of your own home, virtual healthcare services are designed to accommodate your needs.