If you have a sore throat or gastrointestinal issues, you may want to speak to a healthcare professional about treatment. However, traveling to a hospital or clinic when you aren’t feeling well can be uncomfortable. In these instances, you might consider a telehealth appointment. 

With telehealth technologies, you can access care from a healthcare professional without leaving your home. This can make for a more comfortable and convenient appointment. 

How does telehealth work?

Using your phone, tablet or desktop, you can connect with a care provider to diagnose and treat a medical issue, manage your prescriptions, discuss lab results and more. There are many approaches to telehealth, including: 

  • Virtual visits: Virtual visits allow you to connect with a healthcare provider using video chat or over the phone in real time. 
  • Chat-based: When you use technology to message a healthcare provider or send data or photos to assist in the diagnosis or treatment of an issue. 
  • Remote-patient monitoring: When you use wearable sensors or wireless devices to collect and share healthcare information, such as your vitals, with your medical provider. 

When is virtual care sufficient?

In many cases, a visit to a doctor’s office or a hospital is necessary. There are certain illnesses and ailments that require a physical checkup. If you’re experiencing a life-threatening event, you should always call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. 

There are also situations where virtual care is sufficient. For instance, when dealing with a minor illness such as nasal congestion or a common cold. 

You can also meet with a healthcare provider over telehealth to see if an in-person appointment is necessary or if your illness can be treated effectively at home.  

What minor illnesses can be treated by telehealth?

A minor illness is a medical condition that is not urgent or life-threatening but may require medical attention. 

With a minor illness, you might question if you even need to seek treatment. While it’s possible to treat many minor issues at home, some can become more severe. Speaking with a healthcare provider over telehealth can help to give you the reassurance you need. 

Some of the minor illnesses that can be treated using telehealth include: 

  • Bug bites 
  • Body aches
  • Cold sore
  • Common cold
  • Cough
  • COVID-19
  • Dehydration
  • Eczema and skin rashes
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Hives
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Pink eye/sty
  • Poison ivy
  • Rash
  • Sinus infection
  • Sprains and strains 
  • Telehealth for UTI (urinary tract infection)

When is telehealth enough?

While telehealth is a convenient way to connect with a medical professional for issues and minor illnesses, it can’t replace all doctor visits. If you are experiencing a life-threatening condition, you should call 911 or visit the ER. If you are wondering if your illness requires an in-person medical appointment, a telehealth visit can provide you with more information and guide you to get the care you need.