Without question, 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. The Covid-19 pandemic has made this especially challenging for seniors and all those with underlying health problems. Older citizens and individuals with medical issues have been staying at home to avoid coming in contact with the general population. Caregivers and family members have been helpful with the shopping needs of those staying indoors. However, there is still the need to keep your regular doctor appointments.

The medical community is aware that their patients may postpone office visits to avoid exposure to airborne infections while in the doctor’s office. Telehealth, an avenue of delivering virtual medicine, has become a popular method used to ensure that people are able to stay in touch with their personal doctors. The cost of routine virtual doctor visits has been approved for those with Medicare benefits. There may be occasions when someone needs to visit a doctor’s office for such services as the seasonal flu shots or blood work. But you can help protect yourself by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing if you do need to go to your doctor’s office.

Read the following information to help you better understand what you need to know about virtual medicine in 2020.

What is Virtual Medicine?
Virtual medicine is also known as telemedicine, telehealth, virtual medicine, virtual visit, and virtual medical visit. This system uses electronic devices for real-time, in-person medical visits between you and your personal physician. The visits are scheduled in the same manner as an in-office appointment. The big difference is that you can remain safely in your home while consulting with your doctor.

Why is Virtual Medicine Encouraged?
As long as we are dealing with the threat of being exposed to the spread of the coronavirus, seniors and other individuals with health care conditions need to be extra careful when venturing out of their homes. You don’t need to postpone your doctor appointments because you are afraid of being in close contact with other patients in a doctor’s office. Virtual medicine visits are part of your covered Medicare benefits and you are encouraged to take advantage of this benefit. If your doctor sees a reason for an in-person office call or specific test, you will be told how to protect yourself when going into an office or testing location. Virtual medicine visits are currently the safe, beneficial ways for sustaining or improving your personal health.

How does Virtual Medicine Work?
To complete virtual doctor visits, you need to have at least one of the following communication devices.

• A laptop, computer, or tablet with internet connection

• A smartphone with access to the internet

• A telephone landline

If you are using a digital device, your doctor may have a specific application that will need to be downloaded to complete a face-to-face virtual visit. You do not need to be in your home to complete a virtual office visit. However, if you are not able to connect to your doctor’s application or you don’t have an electronic device with an internet connection, you can still have a virtual office visit using your house telephone.

How to Prepare for a Virtual Medicine Visit?
You prepare for a virtual office visit in the same manner as you would for an in-person office visit, including all of the following routines.

• If your doctor requires blood or urine tests before office visits for routine health management, a work order for lab tests will be forwarded to the laboratory where you regularly get the tests done. The laboratory will forward the results to your doctor’s office before your virtual visit.

• If you routinely check your blood pressure or oxygen levels, you want to test yourself on the day of your virtual visit to have the latest information available.

• Be sure to weigh yourself before the virtual visit so your doctor can monitor your weight management.

• Have a list of your current medications available to ensure that your doctor stays up to date on all of your prescriptions from all of your doctors. If you need refills, be sure to ask for them to be electronically sent to your pharmacy during the virtual visit.

A caregiver or a family member can help you get online with your doctor if you have an electronic device but don’t know how to get connected. Most doctors have someone in their office that can guide you through the process of setting up your device before the virtual office call. A caregiver or a family member can also help you communicate with your doctor during the virtual visit if you have a speech or hearing problem.

Related articles:

Does Medicare Cover Doctor Visits?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Does Medicare Cover Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic?(Opens in a new browser tab)