If there is a silver lining to the challenges the past year created for families, it may be the growth, availability and affordability of virtual care for medical and mental health needs. The ability to see a doctor from home, with little notice, offers a level of flexibility in accessing health care that was historically quite rare.
Virtual care, or telemedicine, can span a wide range of services to address a family’s health needs without going to a doctor’s office and provides easy access to experts and specialists via phone and video. Plus, telemedicine services are covered by most insurance providers.
“Telemedicine is a safe and practical way to access health care for the entire family,” said Dr. Desreen N. Dudley, a clinical psychologist and behavioral health quality consultant for Teladoc. “For example, Teladoc has thousands of care providers across all 50 states that let members quickly connect with a doctor or specialist who can provide peace of mind any hour of the day or night.”
From care for specific illnesses to managing ongoing concerns, learn how accessing telemedicine might be a good fit for your family’s health care needs.
In the past, if your doctor’s office couldn’t get you in to help treat conditions like allergies, sinus infections or other common illnesses, urgent care was one of your few remaining options. Now, virtual care can be increasingly relied upon to conveniently address non-emergency needs and everyday illnesses in place of urgent care.
Even with a referral, it can take weeks or months to get an appointment with some specialists. One example is dermatology. Instead of waiting months to be seen by a dermatologist, with a virtual provider, you can seek and receive treatment a matter of hours.
As a result of the pandemic and related social implications, many organizations are reporting substantial upticks in requests for mental health support and anticipate telemedicine will outlive the pandemic. In fact, phone and video visits for mental health have been shown to be as effective as in-person treatment, according to the Telemental Health Institute.
Most people think of their health needs in terms of reactive care for known problems, but it can also be useful for wellness care, such as nutrition. With more families cooking meals at home during the pandemic, registered dietitians can provide virtual consultations to help ensure everyone, including family members with special dietary needs, receives proper nutrients.
If you’re unsure about a diagnosis, need help choosing treatment, have medical questions or concerns, or want an expert’s advice or second opinion, some virtual care providers can connect you with leading specialists to give you the answers and confidence you need to make informed decisions about your family’s health.
Take Charge of Your Mental Health
Between virtual school, safe playdates and working from home, lives have been interrupted in countless ways by the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those is the impact on mental health. These tips from Dudley can help make your mental health a priority.
Engage in self-care. Self-care should be prioritized along with your work or family priorities. Make time to reconnect with family and friends by phone or video chat and allow kids to do the same. Remember asking for help, including seeking mental health counseling, is a form of self-care, too.
Change expectations. Give yourself and your family grace, embrace flexibility and let go of your pursuit of perfection. Be patient and give yourself a “timeout” when challenges arise. For example, wait to address kids’ negative behaviors until you are less frustrated and stop apologizing for things like children making noise in the background of calls.
Keep a structured routine. Even if your regular schedule is off due to virtual school or other factors, maintaining routines like regular bedtimes allows for more time to get things done and unwind. Similarly, focus on your responsibilities during the day then catch up with kids and non-essential activities after work hours.
Learn more about how virtual care may work for your family at Teladoc.com.
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