You order your lunch online. You can buy your toilet paper, your glasses, and even your car online. But did you know you can go to counseling online? Treat your acne? Fill your birth control prescription?
Slowly but surely, pharmacies, therapists, and doctors are providing virtual solutions for your medical needs. Prompted by the stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, most businesses and healthcare providers pivoted to providing digital options. Zoom became a household word. Services like grocery and food delivery boomed.
What you may have missed is the remarkable change this shift had on the healthcare industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telemedicine visits increased by 154% between 2019 and 2020. This means it’s easier than ever for you to address health concerns directly from your phone or computer. Let’s take a look.
1. Convenient Birth Control
Countless women need it. Most people benefit from it. Birth control is one of those things you really don’t want to be without. Whether it’s the birth control shot, pill, or patch, it’s best to be prepared. Consistent use is key.
Maybe you live in a rural area without easy access to a pharmacy. Maybe you just hate running to one every month. You know you need this medication regularly, so make it simpler on yourself and order it online. Then, like the new book you just bought, it can show up in your mailbox.
Think of online birth control like a life hack. You’ll never be without the contraception you need because it arrives automatically every month. You’ll not only save several trips to the drugstore, you’ll also avoid any unscheduled visits to the maternity ward.
2. Medications for Chronic Conditions
Sometimes filling a prescription for a chronic condition can feel like doing your taxes. Does your insurance cover the cost? Do you need an updated prescription for the asthma inhaler you’ve been using your whole life? Does your arthritis medication even require a prescription?
These questions are particularly frustrating when you are trying to heal your body. Luckily, companies are evolving to offer easier access to prescriptions and more transparent cost structures. Telehealth is making healthcare more user-friendly. Some sites will even help you find money-saving coupons for the meds you need.
Local pharmacies often have online refill options as well, so check with your current provider. They probably have a virtual option in place. You can also consult your insurance company. Many insurers offer discounts when patients order prescriptions from particular online pharmacies.
Have you ever felt too depressed to go to your therapist’s office? Another huge upgrade in online healthcare is the ability to see a therapist online. Many therapists are now working with clients virtually from their living rooms. This means that location no longer matters — you can stay home but still get the help you need.
Or perhaps you moved. You’re adjusting to a new commute, boss, and corner coffee shop. In addition to getting settled in your new home, you now have to look for a new therapist. Finding new healthcare providers is one of the things that makes moving tough.
Fortunately, the online therapy option helps prevent interruption of care. Check with your counselor; they probably have a virtual option that you can utilize. They may even be licensed in multiple states. Moving across the country is a little less stressful when you can maintain consistent therapy appointments.
4. At-Home Health Tests
You’ve got a nagging cough, and you’re not sure whether your morning cereal tasted the same as it usually does. As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, you’d hardly be the first person to ask “Is it a cold, or is it COVID?” Thanks to the at-home test kits readily available online, you can answer this question in the comfort of your own home. And if the result is “yes,” you’ll have kept from exposing others.
While COVID-19 rapid tests are doing brisk business these days, they are far from the only at-home health test you can get online. If you’ve had unprotected sex, you can test yourself for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections via a urine sample or simple pinprick. Once you’ve shipped your samples to the lab, you’ll typically receive results within a week. While STIs are common and nothing to be ashamed about, the discretion of at-home testing is welcome nonetheless.
5. Patient Information
They did the X-rays, and now you’re waiting for the radiologist’s report. It feels like your life is on hold until you know the results. You have to wait to make healthcare decisions, and it feels as though you have no control. But you do: The ability to view your medical information online is a game changer.
Patient portals have been around for a while, and if you aren’t utilizing yours, it’s time to check it out. The interfaces are getting more user-friendly by the day. You can schedule your appointments, view your medical information, and — most importantly — get any lab results faster.
Usually a patient portal is a free service offered by your healthcare provider. Take a minute to set it up, and let your patient portal work for you.
As with so many services, healthcare is online now. That means it’s time to rethink how you access healthcare products and services. You can take your therapy appointment in the backyard on your phone. You can set up auto-refills of your birth control meds and have them come to you. Yes, the internet is full of dog videos and cat memes, but it can also make your life easier — and healthier.