Medically reviewed on April 4, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Telehealth—a service that connects patients with healthcare providers via a virtual appointment instead of an in-office visit—has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years . By late 2021, 37% of adults in the US had used a telehealth service in the last 12 months. As such, the US government continues to expand access to telemedicine [2, 3].
But if you’ve never signed up for a virtual care appointment with a healthcare provider before, you might be wondering when to use telehealth. While it’s not appropriate for every care scenario (like life-threatening emergencies), telemedicine is an excellent option for discussing test results, meeting specialists for the first time, and managing other health concerns.
In this guide, we’re exploring when to use telehealth—and when you should see a healthcare provider in person instead.
Telehealth services are useful for a variety of healthcare applications . Let’s explore how telehealth works and a few scenarios when a telemedicine appointment (instead of an in-person visit) might work for you.
So, can an annual wellness visit be done via telehealth? While you may have only had them in a clinical setting before, virtual routine checkups could be an excellent option for some patients .
During a virtual care visit or checkup, your healthcare provider (typically a general practitioner or family physician) might :
If you’re considering working with a new provider, their office might request (or require) an initial appointment to assess your :
Since you might not receive any physical care at your consultation appointment, consultations can be an opportunity to utilize telemedicine services. But, if you’re looking for a consultation ahead of an in-person treatment (like a medical procedure), remember to look for a telehealth provider that also offers in-person treatment in your area.
If you’re seeking care from a specialist, telehealth visits can conveniently facilitate :
If you’ve recently undergone lab testing—either at an in-person collection location or using an at-home collection kit—your healthcare or testing provider might offer an opportunity to discuss your results during a telehealth appointment .
You might seek lab testing if:
But if your results indicate that you might not need in-person care, your healthcare provider might recommend discussing your results in a virtual setting instead of in person. A virtual appointment may also be helpful before testing if:
Telemedicine can also help individuals using (or looking to use) prescription medication to manage existing health conditions .
What might virtual prescription management look like? For example:
While telehealth can be a convenient, useful, and affordable treatment option in many scenarios, you should also know when to see an in-person healthcare provider instead of a virtual one.
You should consider seeking in-person treatment for :
If you’re ever in doubt about what to do during an unexpected health event, contact emergency health services right away.
Knowing when to use telehealth could save you time or money on routine medical care, but you should always seek in-person care during a potentially life-threatening emergency.
When you’re looking for quality care from the comfort of your home, turn to Everlywell. We provide access to telehealth services via Virtual Care Visits, at-home testing collection kits, and other products to help you learn more about your health and meet your goals.
Everlywell can connect you with licensed providers who can discuss recent test results, offer prescription management, and create personalized wellness plans tailored to your needs. If you’re looking for digital healthcare at your fingertips, learn more about our telehealth services.