Telehealth has been a convenient, viable option for patients for some time now. But not every patient knows the full extent of telehealth’s history and utilization. In fact, while telehealth patient use is up since the start of COVID-19, clinics facilitated the virtual care feature for only 13% to 17% of American health-related visits in 2021.
The following is a quick, informative guide to help educate patients on this increasingly popular alternative form of health service.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth is the delivery of general health services, information, and medical care on a digital platform. Patients commonly use telehealth services for virtual visits in the case of non-life-threatening injuries or symptoms. But telehealth expands beyond virtual visits and can also include email or instant messaging correspondence as well as lab-related work.
What Telehealth Is Not…
Telehealth is not a virtual health service designed for life-threatening injury treatments or otherwise emergency health situations. Telehealth is also not for patients who require the immediate use of in-house scanning equipment or labs. Though, there are some testing-related services that utilize telehealth alongside in-person visits. A patient may, for example, begin a visit virtually and then have a second appointment for in-person scans.
The History of Telehealth
The earliest forms of remote-based medical care date back as early as the 1920s when inventors and physicians explored various ways of utilizing radios for health-related communications. Over time, this approach functioned mainly as a service for special cases. They were utilized in situations in which health experts corresponded across great distances—from the continuous U.S. to Fairbanks, Alaska, for example—to determine whether a patient required travel for more extensive treatments.
Then, in the 1960s, closed-circuit television links were established for psychiatric consultations and the modern concept of telemedicine began to take shape. Today, virtual care visits like this are possible even on a smartphone. And while most patients use online services for cold symptoms and mild infections or irritations, there are some hospitals that use similar technologies for stroke exams and some ICU (intensive care unit)-based treatments.
When to Use Telehealth
We recommend using telehealth for non-life-threatening symptoms and appointment follow-ups. Specifically, at The Urgency Room, we see patients via telehealth for:
- Respiratory concerns
- COVID testing
- Eye concerns
- Urinary tract infections
- Sinus infections
- Sore throat
- Rashes or other skin concerns
Once you’ve had the opportunity to visit us online, we will then determine the best course of action for your condition.
How Telehealth Works
Some online portals can be confusing, especially for a first-time telehealth user, but a helpful setup makes all the difference. While we can’t speak for other clinics, Urgency Room’s telehealth process is as follows:
- From our Online Care page, click Start Visit Now
- Create an account if it’s your first time with on our new platform
- Complete a series of online health interview
- Your provider will review your responses and provide a treatment plan within an hour
- Testing and/or prescriptions will be provided as needed
If you require testing, you will be instructed to visit an Urgency Room location of your choice for your test. You will be notified via text/email as soon as your results are ready. .
Is It Affordable?
Some services online, like online visits for COVID testing are more affordable than in-person visits. Our online visits start at $125 and can vary depending on additional testing or services required. We will bill any applicable insurance or HSA. See our Online Care FAQ for more information on online care.
Quick Access to Medical Treatment From Experts in Emergency Care
For quick and easy access to exceptional medical treatment, you can’t beat The Urgency Room. Our board-certified emergency providers handle all levels of medical care needs for patients throughout the Twin Cities.
The Urgency Room is open 365 days a year, in person from 8am to 9pm and online from 8am to 8pm.