My boyfriend had sinus surgery back in January and several of his follow up medical visits were done via video chat with his doctor. Wait… What? How was that even possible? Did you have to look up your own nose? How did you do that? I had so many questions. To get to the bottom of what it’s really like to do a video or virtual care visit, I asked Gerry Tolbert, MD, (formerly a physician with The Christ Hospital Physicians – Primary Care
What exactly is virtual health? What types of virtual services does The Christ Hospital offer?
Dr. Tolbert - Being able to access care is important to us. With the current coronavirus outbreak, meeting in person isn’t an ideal solution for everyone, so we’ve expanded our capabilities to offer visits by video, telephone, and secure electronic messaging. Video and telephone visits allow for real-time communication, much like an in person visit to the office, while the electronic messaging is more like e-mail.
How do I sign up for a video visit? Can I do it on my phone?
To get started, call your provider’s office to determine if a video visit is appropriate for your concerns. If a video visit would be the best way to address your questions, the scheduler will book your appointment and provide instructions for the visit.
You will need:
An active MyChart account (contact your provider’s office for assistance if you don’t already have one). MyChart is a program that connects you directly to your electronic medical record.
A good internet connection (if you can use FaceTime, Skype or other video chat programs, then your connection is likely good enough for video visits).
A mobile device (smartphone or tablet) or computer (laptop or desktop) with a webcam.
We've also put together a tip sheet and a basic troubleshooting guide to help you navigate some of the most frequently addressed issues.
What sort of conditions or health issues are right for a video visit?Dr. Tolbert
- Most issues that can be dealt with in person can be first evaluated through a video visit, including, but not limited to, anxiety, depression, rash, minor injuries, medication questions, or even routine follow-up of chronic problems like thyroid disease or diabetes (though additional lab work or exam may be needed in some cases). It’s best to call your provider’s office and they can determine if your specific question can be addressed safely via video visit.
How can a doctor diagnose me without an in-person exam?Dr. Tolbert
- Much of the diagnosis process is determined by what we call the history of present illness – which just means, “What symptoms are you having, for how long, and in what context?” Answers to those questions allow us to understand the problem and arrive at a diagnosis or determine if more in-depth evaluation is required. Most of the time, physical exam is not necessary, but can help solidify the diagnosis.
Can a doctor give me a prescription during a video visit?
Dr. Tolbert - Yes. Since the vast majority of prescriptions are currently sent electronically, if medication is appropriate, we can send it directly to your preferred pharmacy.Dr. Tolbert -
Will the video visit be with my actual doctor or someone else?
Currently (within The Christ Hospital Health Network) video visits are scheduled with your provider or one of their partners.
How will this be billed on my insurance? Is it the same price as an in-person visit?Dr. Tolbert -
During the pandemic, video visits, telephone visits and electronic messaging visits are covered by most insurance plans and billed at the same cost as an in-person office visit. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be charged a small co-pay. If you don’t have insurance, video visits, telephone visits or electronic messaging visits are self-pay.
Thank you, Dr. Tolbert! Stay well and stay healthy, my friends.If you’re not feeling well and would prefer to stay home for your appointment (despite all of the precautions The Christ Hospital Health Network team are taking to keep you safe), a virtual or video visit may be the way to go. Learn more about video visits here.