By Robert A. Poarch
In an effort to meet your healthcare needs during this period of social distancing, telehealth visits with many of Mission Health’s providers are now available! To help you learn what to expect on your visit, Alan Feiler, MD, a physician with Asheville Family Medicine, answers some key questions.
What is a telehealth visit?
A telehealth visit is a visit between a patient and their medical provider completed virtually with the patient being able to remain safely at home. This is accomplished by using the patient portal or other technology to allow video communication and evaluation.
How do I schedule a telehealth appointment?
It’s just like scheduling a regular appointment. Simply call your provider’s office and ask for a telehealth visit.
What kind of equipment do patients need?
A computer or smartphone with a camera. However, telephone-only visits can be done if a patient does not have access to other technology.
Does a telehealth visit cost more than a regular appointment?
No, and some insurances are covering without a copay.
Will you have access to my records, X-rays and scans?
Yes. We are in the office and have access to your normal medical records.
What should I wear during my telehealth visit?
Is telehealth secure?
Yes. The patient portal is HIPPA compliant and secure.
Can I still use telehealth if I’ve never been to a Mission Health doctor before?
Yes. During this period of emergency, the rules have been altered to allow medical providers to see new patients through the portal.
What kinds of benefits are there for providers to use telehealth?
Telehealth allows us to stay in touch and offer our medical advice to our patients while the stay at home order is in effect. Most of primary care medical practice is about listening to your patient and obtaining a good medical history. It has been really fulfilling to be able to continue to provide a high level of medical care to our patients while keeping them safely at home.
Can you prescribe medications via telehealth?
Yes. Your provider can utilize any medications, order tests, etc. that they feel are appropriate.
Can I set up a follow-up appointment?
Absolutely. We will likely set up for a telehealth follow up for any care within the next 2 months.
What types of situations aren’t available for telehealth?
There are some symptoms, like abdominal pain, that definitely require an exam. However, we can often start with a telehealth visit, and if it becomes apparent that an exam is needed convert to an in-person visit that same day. Also, there are some conditions that require laboratory blood work that warrants the patient coming into the office.
Once COVID-19 is gone, will telehealth still be an option?
We hope so. Our patients are really enjoying the convenience of telehealth, and we hope insurances will continue to cover after this crisis is over.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
For patients who feel more comfortable coming into the office or have a condition that warrants an in-person exam, we have taken many measures to ensure the safety of our practice. This entails completely sanitizing our rooms between patients, all staff involved in patient care are masked and practicing meticulous hand hygiene, and patients with fever, respiratory symptoms or other potential signs of COVID-19 infection are managed through telehealth or referred to Mission My Care Now, which is equipped to safely treat and diagnose this group.
Alan Feiler, MD, is a physician with Asheville Family Medicine.
To schedule a telehealth appointment with your physician, contact their office directly.