3 Ways Patients Can Take Advantage of Virtual Visits

With the rise in technology for virtual visits, it's important for patients to understand how they can take advantage of this offering for their own health

Picture this: It’s Monday morning, and the alarm sounds at 6 a.m. You wake up with the realization that those pesky flu-like symptoms you had over the weekend have only gotten worse. Although you know that you need to make an appointment at the clinic, the thought of leaving your bed is unbearable. The thought crosses your mind: If only the doctor could make a house call. As you roll over to drag yourself out of bed, you catch the glimmer from your tablet’s screen. You’ve heard of virtual visits before, but have never tried one out.

Though the option of virtual visits has been available to patients for some time now, many are hesitant to consider it as they fear it may not be as effective as seeing a doctor in-person. As a result, this type of care has experienced a slow rise both in popularity and use. At the same time, the healthcare system has been hesitant to fully adopt and promote such technology, which continues to leave patients feeling uncertain.

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As we look ahead to the future of healthcare, the need to adapt and welcome new types of technology is apparent. As reported by Forbes, revenue from virtual visits is forecast to boom in the next couple of years from “less than $100 million in 2013 to $13.7 billion in 2018.” It is projected that “by 2018, 22 million households will use virtual care solutions,” which is a huge increase from the way they have been used in the past.

With virtual visits becoming a growing reality, it is important that patients have an understanding of how this technology can be used to their benefit. Here are three scenarios that illustrate how patients can take advantage of virtual visits.

1. Use virtual visits to make follow-up appointments a higher priority and easier to commit to.

If you’re like most people, you know the sense of dread that sets in upon being told by a doctor (after a 90-minute-long visit) that you are due back in the office the following week for a check-in. You’ve already taken time off work for the first appointment and are not looking forward to asking your boss for more time off. Instead, you consider just skipping the follow-up appointment, as you are not sure that it is worth your time and the hassle. The convenience of virtual visits encourages patients to make their health top-priority and adhere to their doctor’s instructions/recommendations.

2. Eliminate time spent traveling to and from appointments as well as sitting in waiting rooms.

Visiting the doctor is time-consuming. With virtual visits, patients can “be seen” by their doctor at home, in the office or even on-the-go. Instead of spending time sitting in rush-hour traffic, only to arrive at the clinic and realize there is a 30-minute wait, you can see your doctor on your own terms. With this virtual option, it is easier for patients to keep up with their medical appointments, instead of having to schedule far out in advance and coordinate with travel time.

3. Visit with providers or specialists who you may not be able to see otherwise due to geographical constraints.

Ever wanted to see a specific doctor, but he or she was located in a different state or city that was further away than you’d like to drive? Patients can use virtual visits as a unique opportunity to be seen by providers/doctors who do not practice in a local clinic. This allows patients to expand their options of doctors to choose from when it comes to receiving the care they need.

There is a reason that virtual visits are on the rise — mainly because they give patients more control over their care. So next time you need to schedule an appointment, think about the alternate options for “seeing” your doctor.

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