Telehealth Is Transforming Healthcare

May 31, 2021

Access to healthcare is more important than ever right now during the pandemic. If you are like me, though, you may be nervous about going into a doctor's office because other people could be contagious and spread their germs to you. Or perhaps you would not mind going into the office but find it hard to make an in-person visit work around your schedule or your transportation needs.

Telehealth is transforming healthcare. Patients can connect to healthcare providers instantaneously from their own homes. Telehealth enables patients to arrange appointments with more flexibility and expediency. Further, medical professionals can aid patients more efficiently.

Perhaps telehealth sounds too good to be true. Maybe it sounds great in theory, but you are left wondering if a doctor can treat and diagnose someone without seeing them in person. In addition to those questions, there are the added issues of insurance and out-of-pocket costs. Read on for a detailed discussion of how telehealth is transforming healthcare in Connecticut. 

Telehealth Is Not New

With the onset of the Covid-19 health crisis, there has been a lot of news about telehealth and telemedicine. It may seem that this is a new technology stemming from the need for social distancing and an influx of people who need to see a doctor. That assumption would be incorrect, though. Telehealth medicine has been around for quite some time.

While rudimentary attempts at telemedicine were made as early as 1940, we recognize today as telehealth appeared in the 1990s. Of course, even that method of telemedicine would be considered narrow in scope compared to the access we have to video technology these days.

It is important to consider that telehealth has been in the works for decades, even though it may seem like some shiny new toy that you should be leary of. Although you should always do your research and find the best care options available to you, you can trust that telehealth is a great and safe alternative to making a trip to the doctor's office or urgent care clinic.

The Benefits of Telehealth

Before we dive into the specifics, you may be asking what is telehealth exactly? The Department of Health and Human Services describes telehealth as using telecommunications devices to connect patients and doctors who are not in the same place. Telehealth includes:

  • Video chatting
  • Remotely monitoring vitals

While it may seem odd at first, there are numerous benefits to telehealth. The most obvious benefit is that telehealth reduces your overall exposure to potential contagions. Another convenience of telehealth is that you can visit with your healthcare provider without leaving your home. 

Telehealth helps you avoid things like finding childcare or worrying about a complicated commute. In addition to saving time and avoiding these hassles, you can save money on babysitters, daycare, transportation costs, and even parking costs if you live in densely populated areas. 

In addition to these bonuses, the Department of Health and Human Services also notes that telehealth often results in less time spent waiting to get an appointment. Further, the doctor you connect with during your telehealth appointment can make specialist referrals.

Often, the right specialist can be located a long distance from you, but with telehealth, you can connect with them from the comfort of your couch.

Telehealth in Connecticut

Many parts of Connecticut are very rural. Traditionally, rural areas have fewer doctors and hospitals, and so it can be challenging to make the long drive to see your doctor. According to an article covering one report, Connecticut rates 45th in physicians projected per capita by 2026 and 40th in hospitals per capita.

As noted, it can be even more difficult if you need to see a specialist because those can be even fewer and farther in between. A trip to see the right healthcare provider can take up an entire day or sometimes even longer, depending on how far you would need to travel. 

During the pandemic, there is also the concern of overcrowding in hospitals and doctors' offices. This rings most true in rural areas, where there are not enough clinics. Telehealth medicine is helping the citizens of Connecticut stay connected to healthcare providers, especially during these unprecedented times. 

Even if you do not live in rural Connecticut, telehealth medicine saves you time and the basic costs associated with rearranging your time to visit a healthcare provider and ensures you can speak to a doctor more quickly. offers visits in Connecticut. 

Other Types of Telehealth Care

Telehealth is not limited to the common cold or Covid-19 symptoms; it can cover various health practices.

Most everyone can agree that 2020 has been a stressful year. Many individuals suffer from mental health problems relating to isolation, the financial, and the health issues we have faced. Mental health experts are needed more now than maybe ever, but with quarantine shutdowns, it can be hard to justify leaving your house to speak with a therapist. 

The American Psychological Association notes that there are 20,000 mobile apps intended to help individuals connect with those in need of mental health help. Importantly, they also note that, although there are many options, it is wise to do your research before choosing a provider.

In addition to mental health practitioners, optometrists in many states have also had to shutter their doors or reduce the number of patients they can see in a day. So again, doctors moved online and developed platforms to administer eye exams. 

Equipment You Need for a Telehealth Appointment

You may not think that you are tech-savvy enough to participate in telehealth medicine, but really, you do not need to be a whiz kid to access telehealth care. Sure, there can be a learning curve to understanding the process of telehealth, but you can always ask your healthcare provider to help you navigate the system.

Of course, having an internet connection and video and microphone capabilities on your electronic device are pretty much required. Medical providers who offer telehealth utilize specialized software on their end, but for the most successful telehealth consultations, you should have:

  • High-speed Internet 
  • Video/Audio-capable electronic device such as smartphone, computer, laptop, or tablet
  • Software, your healthcare provider, uses for telehealth medicine

Your healthcare provider will let you know what sort of software you might need before starting the consultation. It is also helpful to have all of your devices fully charged before the appointment begins. 

It is important to note that in Connecticut, certain types of communications are not considered telehealth for insurance coverage purposes. This is discussed in more detail later on in this article.

Telehealth Might Be Right for You

Understanding when telehealth might be your best option could be confusing. However, there are certainly times when it is not. For example, telehealth is not adequate in the event of a medical emergency. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, you should call 911 or go to the hospital. 

Often, telehealth is perfectly appropriate for your medical needs, and in many cases, it is the safest option. Some great times to use telehealth are when:

  • You need to refill a prescription
  • Your doctor is not available
  • Your schedule is too busy
  • You are out of town

Even before the pandemic, individuals with a compromised immune system risked infection by going to a doctor's office during seasonal flu peaks. Now, going to the doctor could put someone at an even greater risk because of how easily Covid-19 is transmitted.

On that note, if you feel that you may have Covid-19, you might be highly contagious, and scheduling an online doctor's appointment will protect others from the virus you might be carrying. In addition, Covid-19 can be treated from home in most cases, and your telehealth doctor can help you navigate your symptoms through remote instruction and online monitoring.

Telehealth Increased During the Pandemic

According to the CDC, telehealth visits rose by 154% at the end of March of 2020 compared to the last week of March 2019. Thus, while telehealth existed before the onset of the pandemic, social distancing guidelines, coupled with an influx of patients, in many ways drove healthcare providers to improve and increase their telehealth capabilities. 

Doctors' offices have been quick to inform their patients that they offer telehealth and have included portals in their apps and on their websites for easy access when connecting online. Even urgent care facilities will consult via video chat if you have concerns but do not know if it is appropriate to visit the clinic.

It is also important to note that current wait times at your doctor's office or local urgent care are long right now. Sometimes the lines are so long that patients are lined up out the door and down the street. During cold or rainy days, waiting in long lines like this would be especially brutal. Telehealth helps keep the crowds down.

Telehealth Care Is Effective

Now that we have discussed many of the benefits of telehealth medicine and its rise in popularity during the pandemic, you may be wondering how effective it is. In addition, you might be asking how a doctor can assess your well-being during a virtual visit when they can not physically be in the same room to check your heart rate or listen to your breathing with their stethoscope. 

With today's advanced technology, doctors can assess your vital signs through remote patient monitoring. Remote patient monitoring is a way doctors can stay updated on their vital sign trends through a secure online monitoring platform. This technology provides your doctor with even more access than they would gain from a one-time visit in many ways.

In addition to the more sophisticated online tools that your healthcare provider may suggest you use in aiding them to determine the status of your condition, it can be helpful for you to have specific tools. For example, having a thermometer, blood pressure monitor, and a pulse oximeter on hand to take readings during your virtual visit will enable you to relay information in real-time.

Devices to Help You Monitor Your Vitals

A thermometer is generally a common household item, but there are many thermometer types to choose from. Some varieties are preferred when you have babies or small children. The Mayo Clinic describes the two primary types of thermometers as touch thermometers and remote thermometers, noting the benefits of the two as:

  • Touch: More accurate and generally preferred
  • Remote: Good for maintaining distance when taking a reading

Similarly, the Mayo Clinic discusses two types of blood pressure reading systems for monitoring your blood pressure at home. The two types are the inflatable cuff readers you are probably familiar with and digital readers. Again, there are several brands of blood pressure readers, and your doctor can help you choose the type and brand that is best for you.

A well-known complication from Covid-19 involves your oxygen intake. If you are symptomatic for Covid-19, then it is helpful to have a pulse oximeter on hand so you and your doctor can remotely track your blood oxygen levels. Yale Medicine notes that this type of reading is not always needed, but it can be a deciding factor in elevating medical care to the next level. 

Be Prepared for a Follow up in Person

Maybe you are concerned that you will be stuck doing only telehealth visits. Fortunately, that is not the case, and often, the telehealth visit is utilized to determine if you need to go into the doctor's office for additional testing or evaluation. Sometimes, the telehealth doctor may even advise you to go to the hospital.

If the readings you provide your healthcare worker sound off any alarms to them, they will direct you to come into the office or let you know that it is time for emergency care. This is often when your oxygen levels reach dangerous readings if you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms or have been diagnosed with Covid-19. 

It can be easy to forget that, during these pandemic times, not everyone is consulting with their healthcare providers due to Covid-19. However, telehealth medicine is not limited to Covid-19, and your doctor will know when to have you come into the office for various medical concerns. 

What to Expect During Your Telehealth Appointment

In many ways, a telehealth appointment is similar to a traditional doctor's appointment. You will want to have filled out all of the necessary paperwork before your appointment. Just as it makes sense to be prepared for an in-person visit, you should also be ready for your online doctor's appointment.

In particular, it is helpful to have any questions ready to ask before you start your appointment. It would help if you also kept a pen and some paper ready to jot down the notes and instructions given to you by your telehealthcare provider. 

You may be asked to input medical data online so that your doctor can remotely monitor your vitals and better treat you for your illness. Although the novelty of interacting with a medical professional online may be daunting at first, virtual visits have more in common with traditional visits than you might assume. 

During your initial telehealth visit, your healthcare worker should know the limits of their ability to treat you remotely. Do not be afraid to ask questions during the online visit!

Prescriptions Obtained Through Telehealth

Traditionally, when you have visited your doctor and require a certain prescription, you see them fill out the paperwork and hand you the piece of paper that you then give to your pharmacist. So now, you may be wondering how you get the medicine you need from a telehealth visit. 

Even before telehealth medicine became so popular, doctors often called in prescriptions to pharmacies without putting pen to paper. Fortunately, that is also the case with online doctor visits. If your doctor finds that you need more than an over-the-counter medicine, they can submit the prescription directly to your local pharmacy.

One critical issue to note is that a doctor must generally perform an in-person examination regarding the prescription of controlled substances. The DEA, however, has stated that telehealth visits will satisfy this requirement so long as the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency declaration remains active.

If you want to know more about getting prescriptions for refills or other medications you can read the article on telehealth and medication refills.

Insurance Covers Telehealth

You may be wondering if telehealth is covered by insurance. Health insurance is always changing and is a complicated topic. Most big insurance companies offer telehealth medicine coverage, but there can be limitations on what your insurance provider covers explicitly. 

To understand what is covered under your insurance, you will need to look at your policy and contact your insurance provider if you have questions. In some instances, your insurance will allow for telehealth visits, but you may have those remote visits with a physician other than your traditional doctor. 

Given the additional need for telehealth medicine during the pandemic crisis, the insurance industry has been busily adjusting to the influx of telehealth needs. It will continue to make adjustments.

There is even coverage for telehealth visits in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. However, sometimes telehealth just isn't enough. In this case, if you have a nursing home or assisted living facility in Connecticut, InHouse Care LLC provides advanced nurse practitioners to facilities. They also offer telehealth services to the facility at no extra charge to the facility.

Connecticut Laws Covering Telehealth

Each state has specific laws governing telehealth, and Connecticut is no different. According to the laws of Connecticut, telehealth is:

  • A remote and simultaneous interaction between a patient and a telehealth provider
  • Remote patient monitoring

Specifically, Connecticut law says that telehealth medicine is NOT communication by:

  • Fax machine
  • Texting
  • Audio-only phone calls
  • Email

The communication between the telehealth provider and the patient needs to concur, and the connection must be two-way. This may seem obvious, but it is important to understand what the state considers to be telehealth by definition so that you can ensure your insurance covers your visit.

Here is an article on the legality of telehealth in Connecticut.

Medicaid and Medicare Telehealth in Connecticut

Medicaid and Medicare also cover telehealth in many cases. These options are similar to private health insurance options in that each treats online telehealth visits a little bit differently, and your coverage will depend on your specific needs. 

Medicare treats telehealth appointments like a traditional doctor visit, so your co-pay will be the same as if you went into the doctor's office. However, Medicaid is generally more restrictive and will cover the telehealth appointment only if it is more cost-effective than going into the doctor's office. 

In a bit of good news, Connecticut is a state that has passed insurance parity laws regarding telehealth medicine. A parity law means that insurance providers must generally offer the same benefits for telehealth medicine as they would for in-person visits. 

These parity assurances were expanded due to the pandemic. Although they currently provide for more broad coverage regarding private payer insurance and Medicaid reimbursements, the law is temporary and could expire in March of 2021.

Telehealth Without Insurance

Even if you do not have health insurance through a private payer plan or Medicaid or Medicare, telehealth is still accessible. This might be a significant relief to you. But, unfortunately, many people lost their jobs and their health insurance at the same time as a result of Covid-19 shutdown policies. 

Even if you did not lose your job or health insurance during covid, your health insurance may not cover a telehealth appointment that would be helpful for you. Telehealth streamlines patient visits and cuts down on overhead for medical professionals. This is one reason that telehealth can be a very cost-effective option for you.

According to CNBC, The average cost of a telehealth visit without insurance is $79. Compared to the average price of an in-person visit with your doctor, which is about twice that, telehealth provides an economical option for those struggling with the burden of other expenses or who may not have access to insurance coverage. 

Affordable Access to High-Speed Internet

Although the cost of telehealth itself is relatively affordable, there can be other bars to obtaining the online medical care you need. 

For many rural or low-income individuals, accessing the high-speed internet needed for telehealth can be a hurdle that is difficult to overcome. According to a 2019 PEW study, of households making less than $30,000 per year: 

  • 30% do not own a smartphone
  • 44% do not have high-speed internet
  • 46% do not own a computer

During these challenging times, many internet providers are offering assistance to aid low-income individuals in maintain broadband connections. Although this ongoing issue requires more attention, it appears lawmakers are considering ways to benefit people who cannot access the internet in a meaningful way.

Telehealth, in many ways, serves to highlight how necessary it is for people to have access to high-speed internet. 

Telehealth Platforms Vary

If you research telehealth platforms, you will find that there is an extensive array of options. However, while competition breeds healthy innovation, it may be overwhelming to the average person who needs to make an appointment to see a doctor remotely. 

As the patient, you will not have much say in what platform your doctor uses, but there are specific characteristics that all platforms must-have. Most important to the patient is that they must be HIPAA compliant in good faith. This means that your telehealth doctor must make a good faith effort to keep your personal health information confidential.

Healthcare providers will choose their telehealth platform and software based on other, highly nuanced data that allows them to track information and connect patients with the appropriate healthcare personnel. 

Some of the platforms perform better than others, but as the need for telehealth continues, the healthcare industry will continue to adapt. 

Telehealth Is Here to Stay

As discussed in this article, telehealth provides a multitude of benefits to both patients and doctors. Although the use of telehealth has dramatically increased with the Covid-19 health emergency, it is likely to stick around after the pandemic winds down. 

Telehealth is transforming healthcare because it allows patients an affordable healthcare option that is also highly convenient. It also allows people to talk to doctors more quickly than if they had to schedule an in-person appointment. In some ways, it also allows individuals to track their health more closely and put into practice healthier habits. 


Although the technology with telehealth still requires some tweaking, the benefits it provides everyone will incentivize a continued emphasis on accuracy and usability. Even now, it is hard to imagine life before telehealth. The innovations telehealth brings to healthcare and how it facilitates patient relationships with doctors are astounding. 

If you are considering telehealth medicine, you are not alone. Whether you do not have time to block out a chunk of your day for an in-person doctor visit, or you are worried about spreading your symptoms to others, telehealth is an accessible solution for most. 


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