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How to Use Telehealth/Telemedicine

People with chronic medical problems, and those over age 65, are at increased risk of serious complications from the coronavirus. One way to reduce that risk is to limit in-person visits with health care providers. Telehealth, or, as it is often referred to, “telemedicine,” can help.   

What is telehealth/telemedicine?

Telehealth/telemedicine appointments offer an alternative to in-person visits by using audio or video tools so you can speak to your doctor in real time without leaving home. This is especially helpful during the coronavirus outbreak as it is important to reduce the number of trips made outside your home. Telehealth/telemedicine appointments are generally short conversations to review symptoms, see if in-person services are necessary, help diagnose a condition, offer medical advice, and/or prescribe medications, when appropriate.

How does telehealth/telemedicine work?

Telehealth/telemedicine allows you to have live appointments with a health care provider using technology such as your telephone, smartphone, tablet, or personal computer. Call your doctor or health care provider to see if they offer telehealth/telemedicine services. Many providers offer telehealth/telemedicine services including doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers. Your provider can tell you if any upcoming appointments can be handled remotely and explain how to access the appointment—whether it is over the phone, through a secure patient portal, or a video conferencing provider such as Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom.

How to prepare for a telehealth/telemedicine appointment

Make sure you have all the information you need to share with your doctor before your appointment begins.

  • Have your Tufts Health Plan member ID card handy in case you need it.
  • Write down questions or important information.
  • 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). 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.

Is there a cost for using telehealth/telemedicine?

During the coronavirus emergency, there are no copays for Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred members to use in-network telehealth/telemedicine services (out-of-network telehealth/telemedicine services are not covered). Our coronavirus information page provides additional benefit details.

When to use telehealth/telemedicine

Telehealth/telemedicine can be used for many types of appointments, such as general consultations about non-emergency health concerns, requesting prescriptions or refills, and more. Call your doctor to see if any upcoming appointments can be handled by telehealth/telemedicine.

Plan changes related to the coronavirus described above are in effect from March 6 until further notice. Our coronavirus information page provides updated information.

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