Does your doctor’s offer digital care services? If they didn’t before, they may now! Digital health care isn’t a new concept, but the COVID-19 pandemic created a noticeable spike in usage. That’s because patients still needed appointments with their doctors, but some offices experienced shutdowns or realized people simply didn’t feel comfortable with in-person care. Because the demand and popularity for digital care, such as telehealth, grew like never before, many health care offices are adapting their service model to include a digital option. So, what does this mean?
What is digital health care?
Digital health care uses technology to provide health information to help prevent disease and improve quality of life—quickly, accurately and efficiently. This type of care delivery can be classified as many different things, but most people know it as telehealth appointments or patient portals, though it also includes wearable devices and mobile health apps.
However, if you’re not technologically savvy, don’t worry! Digital health care was created to be helpful and easy for everyone to use. The most accessible form can be found right on your smartphone or mobile device. There are hundreds of health care apps at your disposal you can use to monitor and track your health. There’re even several benefits to digital health care:
- Empowers patients to be proactive and take control of their health.
- Broadens access to health care services.
- Increases participation and awareness of health and well-being.
- Reduces unnecessary travel.
- Reduces the cost of health care in the long run.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is the practice of using technology to deliver medical care at a distance. A physician in one location uses telecommunication to deliver care to a patient at another location. These telecommunications may include, but are not limited to, video conferencing, email and telephone calls.
How does telehealth work?
Your primary care physician (PCP) or specialist may already offer telehealth calls and appointments. Telehealth consultations bring you and a doctor together more efficiently, helping you skip long waiting lists to get an appointment sooner. By using a virtual meeting or phone call, you can talk to a doctor about symptoms and a treatment plan from the comfort of your own home.
Advantages of telehealth
Telehealth offers several benefits to help you get and stay healthy. These include:
- Access to care.
- Treatment right from your home.
- Flexible scheduling.
- Medical support and information.
Your network status
If you’re a Meritain Health® plan member, you can check if your provider offers telemedicine by visiting DocFind through Aetna.com or by visiting: http://www.aetna.com/docfind/custom/mymeritain/.
Please refer to your plan document to ensure your plan offers coverage for telemedicine.
Can’t reach a provider?
Need medical care but can’t reach a provider? There are some telehealth apps that can help you connect with a provider via text, voice or video. Many providers accept insurance, charge a low fee or may even offer some of their services for free.
Some digital telehealth apps include:
- Doctor on Demand
- Heal: Telehealth & House Calls
- Circle Medical
- K Health
Digital health care doesn’t stop with telehealth. You may have heard your PCP or specialist refer to a patient portal. But you may be asking “what is a patient portal, and how do I use it?”
What is a patient portal?
Your doctor may have an online patient portal, which provides a more secure online tool where you can ask questions or get quick health advice, request prescription refills, review test results, schedule appointments and more! Your doctor can also use the portal to contact any other specialists you may see. A patient portal is easy to use—simply ask your doctor for instructions on how to set one up. Usually, you’ll just need to create a username and password and you’re all set.
Benefits of using a patient portal
Using a patient portal saves you time and offers many advantages. Some benefits of using a patient portal include:
- Faster communication with your health care provider.
- Access to your personal health information.
- Ability to view and make payments.
- Capability to fill out pre-visit forms for new appointments.
Health care apps
Depending on what you want to track digitally, there are a number of free and paid apps available. Topics range from medication reminders, food trackers, sleep cycle indicators, relaxation techniques and more!
Some digital health apps to check out include:
- Pill Reminder–All in One.
- Drink Water Reminder N Tracker.
- Glucose Buddy Diabetes Tracker.
- Apple Health.
- Sleep Cycle–Sleep Tracker.
- Fabulou–Daily Routine Planner.
- Breethe: Meditation & Sleep.
- Headspace: Mindful Meditation.
- Reflectly–Journal & AI Diary.
Go digital today!
You don’t need to wait! Try incorporating an aspect of digital health care into your life today. By making use of all the resources at your disposal, you can stay well and live a happier, healthier life.
If you’re a Meritain Health member, you may have access to digital health care support with 98point6 or Teladoc. To find out if these services are available to you, check your benefits package to learn more!
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.