24-Hour Doctor Care: Access Help Whenever You Need It
Illness and injury are notorious for happening at the worst possible times. Wake up on a workday with pinkeye? Suffering stomach pains after dinner on Sunday? Maybe your 3-year-old comes to you at midnight with a high fever. In such cases, all you want to do is see a doctor asap, get better, and move on. You don’t want to have to miss work or wait days until the doctor’s office opens. Time is of the essence, but a trip to the emergency room for such everyday ailments seems like an unnecessary and over-the-top expense. What are your options? With telemedicine services becoming increasingly available, access to a 24-hour doctor is easier and more convenient than ever before.
Telemedicine at Your Fingertips
‘Telemedicine’ is the term for clinical care delivered online through a video-conferencing platform such as Skype or FaceTime, which is accessible through your computer, phone, or tablet. The term also includes medical consultations conducted via a simple phone call where you can ask questions and share concerns with a doctor or registered nurse. ‘Telehealth,’ a term often used interchangeably with telemedicine, is a catch-all phrase for health-related communication technologies.
Ahh, it seems the long-lost days of doctor home visits have returned, but with the bonus of 24/7 availability! And this convenience has arrived not a moment too soon. With the spread of COVID-19, avoiding exposure to germs has never been more critical, making virtual 24-hour doctor visits indispensable for minor illnesses and routine medical care. Why risk exposing yourself to something potentially more serious in the interest of getting your earache treated? It is also safer for the practitioners themselves, limiting the number of people they will have to see in person.
In addition to safety and convenience, online doctor visits are also a huge benefit for people living in rural or remote locations where medical offices and hospitals are often far from home. The bottom line is, no matter who you are or where you live, everyone can benefit from having quality healthcare available at their fingertips over a full 24 hours. Doctors are now accessible day and night to diagnose and prescribe from the safety and convenience of your own home. This is modern technology at its best!
How does it work?
Accessing a 24-hour doctor is easy through a reputable online service such as Telegra MD. Once you’ve completed the free registration, you will be able to choose a doctor or therapist from a large network of board-certified specialists. It won’t take long before the doctor sees you. Typical wait times vary, but you may be seen in as little as 15 minutes. When you finally do meet the doctor, proceed just as you would in his or her office. Describe the symptoms you are experiencing, as well as the intensity and duration of any pain or discomfort. If you are participating via videoconference, the doctor may ask to see any physical manifestation of illness (for example, a rash or gooey eye). In short order, you will receive a diagnosis and a prescription, if appropriate. It is a good idea to have your pharmacy’s phone number and location handy, as this information will be requested if medication is necessary. The doctor will electronically transmit your prescription to your preferred pharmacy for pickup.
Common Conditions Treated
Not every health concern can be treated virtually. If an illness or injury is severe or life-threatening, do not hesitate to call 911. Telemedicine is not appropriate for serious medical emergencies. It is best used to manage common, relatively minor ailments that are easily identifiable and treatable. The following common medical concerns are examples of the types of things a 24-hour doctor can help you with virtually, either online or by phone:
- Colds or Flu
- Pink Eye
- Headaches & Migraines
- Asthma and other respiratory problems
- Sinus Infections
- Urinary Tract Infections
- General Aches and Pains
- Erectile Dysfunction
This list is just a sample and by no means exhaustive. There is a broad range of conditions that are suitable for telemedicine practice. For example, certain chronic medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disease, and hypothyroidism, can be monitored online. General health questions such as those related to weight loss and smoking cessation are easily addressed by phone call or video conference.
Mental health is another category that is appropriate for telemedicine. Many people are using online services for counseling and medication management. As the range of telemedicine services continues to expand, more and more people are benefitting from the speed and convenience of having a 24-hour doctor on call.
What It’s Not Useful For
Don’t waste time and endanger your health by reaching out to a virtual doctor for any severe or life-threatening illness or injury. As noted previously, if you are ever in doubt about the severity of your situation, err on the side of caution and call an ambulance or drive yourself to the emergency room.
Additionally, if you suspect a broken bone, sprain, or fracture, you may choose to consult a 24-hour doctor online first, but you will probably need an in-person visit for an x-ray or scan. Obviously, if you require blood tests or any kind of “hands-on” service, you will have to see a doctor in person.
Will Insurance Cover It?
It depends. COVID-19 has caused everyone a lot of grief, but one good innovation to come from it is the growing acceptance of telemedicine. Many insurance companies are now encouraging virtual visits to avoid exposure to COVID-19 and its potential for causing a prolonged hospital stay. Insurance companies are also concerned about people ignoring minor health problems that could eventually escalate into major, more costly ones. It makes sense for the insurance company to encourage their members to receive preventative and routine healthcare as needed. To confirm what insurance may or may not cover, however, it is best to contact the insurance company directly before engaging an online healthcare provider.
Currently, the 5 biggest insurance companies (Humana, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, United Healthcare, and Aetna) all offer some coverage for virtual visits depending on the plan you are enrolled in. Medicare may reimburse it as well. But again, to be sure, you should call your insurance company and ask them. If it turns out that insurance will not cover it, paying out of pocket is always an option. It is usually more affordable than you might expect.
How Much Does It Cost?
The costs are surprisingly reasonable. An online doctor visit typically costs less than an in-person visit if you do not have health insurance coverage. A 2017 study from Health Affairs found that the average cost of an in-person doctor visit, without health insurance coverage, was $146 compared with an average cost of $79 for a virtual visit. This is significantly less than the cost of an in-person visit, which does not provide round-the-clock doctor availability outside an emergency room. And ER visits are much more expensive than a traditional office visit.
Furthermore, if you don’t have a regular family doctor, using a 24-hour doctor instead for minor ailments is often an easier, faster, and sometimes cheaper alternative than trying to find one. For example, a reputable telemedicine provider such as Telegra MD will charge a one-time fee of $49 per visit or you can become a member for $10 per month.
Considering the convenience, safety (from exposure to other pathogens), and speed of a virtual doctor visit, it seems well worth the cost. There is no other scenario where over a period of 24 hours, doctors are available and ready to intervene and quickly address such a broad range of health problems, all from the comfort of your living room sofa.
What about Privacy?
Health information will be kept private as long as you ensure you are accessing a secure and legitimate online platform. Legally, virtual doctor offices are held to the same privacy standards as regular doctor offices. Legitimate providers engage with patients using HIPAA-compliant technology. If there are any follow-up communications, you will be given access to a secure patient portal to retrieve the information.
It’s a Win/Win
Experience has taught us that illness visits when we least expect it, often at the most inopportune times. It does not care what time of day it is or what obligations we have to fulfill. 24-hour doctor care was a dream not too long ago. In the past, if we came down with a bout of bronchitis, an asthma flare-up, or an itchy rash, we had to make an appointment with the doctor and leave work to get there.
Waiting hours, if not days, to see the doctor and risk being exposed to other germs during our visit made getting medical attention inconvenient, to put it mildly. Now, with telemedicine technology, we have access to affordable, quality medical care without even getting out of bed.
With the advent of COVID-19, it seems telemedicine is here to stay. It offers unsurpassed convenience, reasonable rates, quality care, and safety, which is a win/win for everybody. Thankfully, it has never been easier or faster to get the help you need, precisely when you need it.
Schedule a visit with a 24-hour doctor today!
Our health and that of our loved ones are our first priority. The next time you find yourself in need of affordable and convenient medical care, consider signing up with a reputable telemedicine provider such as Telegra MD.
Telegra MD is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long—even during holidays! Give yourself peace of mind in knowing that when the inevitable illness or injury strikes, quality medical care is at your fingertips. See a board-certified doctor for a one.