How to Prepare for a Telehealth Visit
In this era of social distancing, you may feel uncertain about visiting doctors’ offices and medical facilities for regular checkups, screenings, or treatment for a chronic condition. But it’s more important than ever to take good care of yourself. Telehealth (also known as telemedicine) can help by making it easy to see your doctor for many types of appointments from the comfort of home.
Connecting to your doctor virtually
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a tremendous surge in doctors connecting with their patients virtually. Telehealth makes it possible to have appointments over the internet, by phone, email, or other digital media. Many providers offer telehealth services, so ask your doctor if he or she does and whether it’s appropriate for your health care needs.
During the COVID-19 emergency, there are no copays for Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred members to use in-network telehealth services (out-of-network telehealth services are not covered). For non-COVID-related telehealth services received after 12/31/2020, copays will be the same as an in-person visit.
A variety of services
Not only does telehealth keep you in touch with your doctor, but it also enables you to get virtual care for a wide variety of needs, in a safe and secure environment. Examples may include: wellness visits, prescriptions for medicine, eye exams, nutrition counseling, and much more. If you have a telehealth visit with a health care professional other than your PCP, be sure to share the results with him or her. Note: If you believe your health is in serious danger, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room or hospital.
It’s important to continue to maintain your health during the year with regular checkups, preventive health screenings, and treatment of any chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and more. Talk to you doctor about which services can be handled with telehealth and if you are concerned about any necessary in-person appointments. As Massachusetts gradually reopens, many health care providers are scheduling routine services under strict safety guidelines.
How to prepare for a telehealth visit
If your visit will include video, charge your smartphone or device that has an internet connection and audio-video capabilities, like a tablet or computer. Then use these tips to help your appointment go smoothly:
- Bring the right information. Have all your medications in case they need to be reviewed. Have your Tufts Health Plan member ID card handy in case you need it. If you need to show your doctor skin lesions or rashes, ask your doctor about sending photos in advance of your appointment as photos are often clearer than video. Ask your provider ahead of time if you’ll need to be ready to discuss other information, such as home blood-pressure readings or glucometer results. If you have them, it can be helpful to have on hand a thermometer, flashlight, blood pressure cuff, and oxygen sensing device (oximeter). If you have lung disease or early signs of COVID-19, having an oximeter that measures your pulse and oxygen level in your blood can provide important information for your doctor. Your plan covers an oximeter if ordered by your doctor through a plan-approved vendor to monitor you for suspected or diagnosed COVID-19. Coinsurance for durable medical equipment (DME) applies. For DME coinsurance rates, see your Evidence of Coverage (EOC) booklet. You can also order monitoring devices from most pharmacies online or in the store and pay out of pocket. The plan will not reimburse for items not ordered by your doctor through the plan-approved vendor.
- Make necessary arrangements. If a family member will be joining and they’ll be in a different location, tell your provider ahead of time so a three-way visit can be set up. Let family members in your home know when your appointment is so they can plan to help reduce any background noise. Also, ask any family members in your home to avoid streaming video during your appointment as that can interfere with the internet connection.
- Prepare your space. Look for a quiet location with as much light as possible. Make yourself comfortable so you can stay focused throughout the visit.
- Wear loose clothing. If you need to show the doctor your skin or another part of your body, make sure you can do so easily.
- Set up the technology. If you’re using your smartphone, make sure the camera is steady by propping it up on a desk or table. Close other applications because they can affect the quality of the connection and can be distracting. Set up in a location that has a strong internet signal. And to make sure you’re all set to go, sign on ahead of time and test your device.
Take advantage of telehealth from the comfort of home to stay connected with your doctor, receive sound medical advice, and get the regular care you need to stay healthy. It’s more important than ever.
Plan changes related to COVID-19 are in effect from March 6, 2020, until further notice. For updates, visit our coronavirus information page.