How Does Telemedicine Work?

How does telemedicine work?

Don't be intimidated by telehealth solutions. If you have a smartphone, telemedicine is the easiest way to connect with a doctor on everyday health concerns. Keep reading as we walk you through the setup and process of using telemedicine applications to consult with a doctor and get the care you need - without leaving home or rescheduling your week.

First things first: when should you use a telemedicine service? 

There are many occasions in which a telemedicine service is a great option to get answers on medical care and conditions. For starters, regularly occurring conditions such as a UTI or head cold are perfect for telehealth - in most cases, you know exactly what you need to feel better, and there's no benefit to an in-person visit with a physician. You may also have a general question about medications and their dosage, which a quick call to a doctor can resolve. Telemedicine is also a good way to determine whether a trip to the ER or Urgent Care is necessary if you're unsure (which could save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars). Telemedicine doctors can diagnose, and in many cases, prescribe non-narcotic medication without seeing a patient in person, made possible by video and image-sharing capabilities during a smartphone-based telemedicine interaction.

Remember, an internet search to diagnose a condition can often lead to a volley of misinformation and unnecessary anxiety. Take it from us - talk to an experienced doctor, and stay out of the WebMD rabbit hole of panic-inducing self-diagnosis. (See our handy chart below for a visual overview of the conditions that can be treated via Hippo Health's telemedicine app). And now, 'How Telemedicine Works'...

How to use telemedicine:

Step 1: Most telehealth solutions offer an app-based service, which makes it easy to connect quickly with a doctor and store basic medical information for continued care. So, download the app - this is as straightforward as it sounds. Once you've downloaded the app, it's time to...

Step 2: Complete your account profile. Provide general information such as name, age, DOB, allergies, brief medical history, as well as contact information such as a phone number where you can be reached should a doctor need to call you (in case of a call disruption, for example), or email address where follow-up information can be sent. 

Step 3: Talk, text or video chat with a doctor (if using the Hippo Health app, you'll speak with one of our network doctors - meet the team here). Many of Hippo Health's members prefer texting, which allows them to connect with a doctor at their convenience. Texting also may eliminate the need for a private, quiet place while discussing personal medical issues. Your telemedicine doctor may ask for images of the condition in question - Hippo Health allows for patients to upload photos at any point during a call or text exchange. Video chat is also an option, and can be very useful when visuals are very important, such as in the case of an unusual rash or extreme bruise, or for parents calling on behalf of their child. 

After a call, you'll be sent a summary email describing the virtual care visit. The summary includes the reason for the call, the doctor's information, diagnosis, care plan and prescriptions written, if applicable. (Over 95% of Hippo's virtual care visits are resolved with one call)

Other things to know about telemedicine:

  • You may call on behalf of your dependent (A Hippo Health family plan allows for up to 7 members on one account). 

  • Telemedicine services are often eligible for payment with a Health Savings Account.

  • No insurance is necessary to use many telemedicine services.

  • Some telemedicine platforms bill per interaction, some may bill as a monthly subscription. Billing per interaction tends to result in $40-100 fees per consultation, on average. (Hippo Health offers low-cost monthly subscriptions that include unlimited care - call as many times as you need).

For other FAQs about telemedicine, and the Hippo Health platform in particular, visit our FAQ page.

Kevin McGarvey