Should You Call an Online Doctor or Medical Provider in an Emergency?

January 3, 2021

The advancements in technology have led to a wonderful evolution in medical treatment: Online doctor appointments through telehealth! While it used to be challenging to see a physician on your schedule, now you can simply connect when you need help. However, you may not know if you should call a medical provider or an online doctor during an emergency. 

If you are experiencing non-emergency symptoms or issues but dealing with a problematic situation, contacting your online doctor may be the quickest option for finding treatment. If you are experiencing difficulty breathing, broken bones, and other serious life-threatening issues, it is essential to contact 911 as soon as possible.

While 911 is still the best option for serious emergencies, a telehealth provider may be able to help you either identify if a trip to the emergency room or urgent care is necessary. They can also help aide the person while you wait on an ambulance to arrive if the situation calls for it. Why else is it better to contact telehealth over an in-person medical provider?

What Qualifies as a Medical Emergency?

While many situations can feel like emergencies, such as stomach pain or hyper-extension of a limb, the definition of a medical emergency is something that poses a risk to the life of the individual stemming from an illness or injury. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the following may be signs of a medical emergency:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns on the body or smoke inhalation
  • Changes in vision
  • Choking
  • Confusion or mental changes
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Fainting, dizziness, or weakness
  • Head or spine injury
  • Poison having been ingested.
  • Near drowning
  • Pain or pressure in the abdomen or chest
  • Pain, sudden or severe
  • Severe or persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Uncontrolled bleeding or expulsion of blood from vomiting or coughing

What Can an Online Provider Treat?

With this information, you may wonder what an online doctor can help you with. In all actuality, they can help with common issues and medical advice when a situation arises. Some everyday situations you might consider contacting your online doctor may be:

  • You or a loved one are coming down with a cold, flu, or other ailment.
  • You’ve discovered an infection, rash, and or potential allergy.
  • You or a loved one need prescription drugs and refills as treatment.
  • You have a chronic condition that needs maintenance and check-ins, such as blood pressure or diabetes, for example.
  • You need treatment for some mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
  • You just need a routine follow-up visit.
  • You need to be educated on using a medical device, such as a blood strip tester or an inhaler.

Telehealth Vs. In-Person

There is a huge concern of being exposed to pathogens when simply attending a regular activity in the current climate. 

The same can be said about going to the doctor’s office. Telehealth offers you a way to get treatment from your home, reducing the possibility of being made vulnerable to other illnesses. You can get the assessment you need, all from the comfort of your couch.

On top of that, even though an in-person doctor can complete a full physical assessment, they may have to refer you to a specialist off-site for particular problems. That doubles exposure as you are traveling to yet another location. 

A telehealth network comprises various doctors and specialists, meaning you do not have to worry about travel or finding a particular kind of doctor. 

Finally, going to an in-person doctor can be demanding as you will need to work with your health insurance to find someone in-network that accepts your insurance. This can lead to doctors being out of your area or using a doctor not in-network just to stay local. Both situations can equal high cost to you in money and time.

For telehealth, especially here in Connecticut, it is a little different when it comes to cost! Due to the July 2020 act HB6001, telehealth services cannot charge you facility fees and only accept payments that are in full the amount that the patient’s insurance reimburses, plus any out of pocket or additional fees. This rule may end with improvement in Covid-19.

While that sounds confusing, that means you get lower rates for your visit than an in-person medical facility! 

Telehealth Benefits

In case it hasn’t been stressed enough, the convenience of connecting with a doctor as soon as you need help is one of the most significant benefits of telehealth. 

An emergency or health situation is an extremely stressful experience, and this ease of communicating can help you get the answers and treatment you need fast.

On top of that, there are a couple of other significant benefits to using telehealth during an emergency or simply a quick check-up:

  • Telehealth service can be more affordable than In-Person visits
  • No long waiting times!
  • HIPAA laws maintain your privacy

Going to an in-person medical provider can be pricey between the cost of the visit, the gas used to make it there, and if you had to take time from work. On top of that, contacting them may see you waiting for a callback or scheduled visit for an answer. 

With telehealth solutions, you can handle your health concerns on your schedule and can expect more affordable rates. 

Just like your doctor, telehealth is under HIPAA law. This means that no matter what you disclose to the medical professional on the other end of your device, they must keep your information private and are unable to share without your consent. 

You can expect your telehealth session to be just as safe and secure as an in-person visit, if not more so. 

Can Telehealth Write a Prescription?

During a routine doctor visit, your medical professional may provide you with a prescription to treat a persistent or temporary medical condition. If you connect with a telehealth professional, you may be concerned that they may be unable to help you in your time of need. However, that is not the case!

As recently as 2018, Connecticut law S. B. 302 allows medical professionals providing service through telehealth to offer a prescription of Schedule II thru V drugs. This means they can get you the medicine you need just as a regular doctor can. 

Being able to prescribe medications online may help you avoid an emergency room visit. However, there is still difficulty prescribing controlled substances unless you have a prior relationship with a medical prescriber.  

Final Thoughts

While telehealth is extremely helpful for those who need medical help, know the signs of a medical emergency. It can make the difference in getting you or your loved one the immediate help you need when a crisis occurs. A telehealth professional can help, but you may still need to contact 911 to get immediate assistance. 

Suppose you have a non-emergency situation or are looking for a way to avoid the potential risk of illness. In that case, telehealth is a great way to get the medical assistance you need in Connecticut. It is fast, private, and can give you the convenience and comfort you need during a stressful time. You can get quality help today and all from your couch. 

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