Skip the Waiting Room—Here Are 5 Surprising Types of Appointments You Can Book Through Telehealth

Whether you're a mom who'd have to pile all your kids in a car or a 20-something not sure if your [insert health concern here] is worth asking your boss for a day off, the last thing you want to deal with when you're feeling sick are the logistics of going to a doctor's appointment.

That's why it's no surprise that during a time when everything from grocery shopping to first dates have gone virtual, health care has too. According to an October 2020 CDC report, telehealth—the umbrella term for any electronic or virtual health care or health education—grew significantly in 2020, with a 154 percent increase in virtual visits the last week of March 2020, compared to that same period the year prior.

The onset of the telehealth trend can be attributed to the rise of stay-at-home orders, but virtual health care and its many advantages are here to stay, says Desreen N. Dudley, PsyD, clinical psychologist at Teladoc, a major virtual care provider that offers 24/7 access to quality care.

It all comes down to convenience without sacrificing the level of care you receive. With Teladoc, wait times are reduced significantly, Dr. Dudley says (not to mention those wait times can be spent on your own couch, not in those uncomfortable waiting room chairs). "Travel time and trying to juggle schedules are also eliminated, leaving members with one less worry as they deal with overall health needs."

Your appointment can be taken anywhere you feel comfortable, and no in-person contact means avoiding other patients' potential germs. Plus, Teladoc allows you to book any time. So if your concern is keeping you up at night, you can book something immediately, and—depending on the concern—potentially have your appointment right then and there, before heading back to hopefully more peaceful sleep.

Setting up a telehealth visit is super simple with Teladoc: Head to the site and register for the type of service you need (medical, mental health, dermatology, etc). After that, just pick the time and date that works for you (which could be right away!), and prepare to call into your appointment—all without leaving your house, of course.

Now let's move on to the good stuff: What, exactly, you can book a telehealth visit for?

1. Mental health services

Whether you're seeking a one-off appointment with a therapist or interested in recurring counseling, a telehealth visit gives you many of the benefits of in-person therapy, plus the potential benefit of being more comfortable sharing in your own home. "Counseling through Teladoc offers complete privacy, allowing people to feel safe, and more comfortable with committing to ongoing appointments," Dr. Dudley says.

2. General medical visits

Think about the last time you went to an urgent care. Odds are you were sitting in a waiting room, staring at the clock, willing the nurse to call your name next—in other words, the atmosphere felt less than urgent. To minimize that stressful waiting-room feeling, requesting a telehealth visit allows you to better pinpoint your "the doctor will see you now" time—especially since it could be within minutes of booking.

"Telehealth can replace many common reasons for in-person urgent care visits, such as cold and flu symptoms, allergies, sinus infections, and stomachaches," Dr. Dudley says. "Individuals can quickly connect with a doctor or specialist and be seen within minutes—providing flexibility for those who need it most, especially busy parents," she says. Plus, if you're working from home, you can essentially work right up until it's your turn for face-time with the provider.

3. Consults with specialists

A common, but frustrating, scenario: You have a question or concern for a specialist, only to find out they're booked up for the next few months. A solution: "Accessing a specialist with telehealth is faster than waiting months to see an in-person specialist, especially for those who are seeking a first or second opinion for themselves or their family’s medical concern, or looking for recommendations," Dr. Dudley says. This includes specialists like nutritionists, dermatologists, and the like.

4. Medication management

You head to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription, but the pharmacist tells you you're out of refills and will need to make an appointment with your doc before you can get more. Instead of scrambling to fit a last-minute appointment into your schedule, a telehealth visit is a way-more-convenient way to get most types of ongoing medications refilled.

"Telehealth is a convenient option for getting refills for most medications used for chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, without having to juggle scheduling an in-person appointment, which may interfere with work or personal schedules," Dr. Dudley says.

"Teladoc’s virtual care providers are board-certified physicians with an extensive knowledge base and expertise," she says. This means that in most cases, they're able to prescribe refills for chronic conditions, like high blood pressure or asthma.

5. Health advice

If you just have a few nagging questions about a family member's health or your own, it might not seem worth it to book an in-person appointment. But considering the alternative is likely a downward spiral of Googling symptoms, getting advice from a qualified professional is never a bad idea.

"Telehealth is a safe and convenient way for parents to get immediate care or advice for their children’s health needs, easing their stress and worry, which have already been impacted due to the pandemic," Dr. Dudley says. Here's to easing those worries in 2021, and beyond.

Top photo: Teladoc

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