Virtual Clinics: The New Normal in Healthcare

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on September 4, 2023
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In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, one particular innovation is making waves and redefining how we approach medical consultations – virtual clinics.

With the advancement of technology, the leap from traditional hospital visits to online clinic consultations has become feasible and highly beneficial.

The Online Mental Health Review Team is uniquely qualified to write about virtual clinics due to their extensive experience in the mental health field and deep understanding of telemedicine. 

This blog post aims to delve into the world of virtual clinics, highlighting their benefits and explaining how they’re transforming the future of healthcare.

Understanding Virtual Care in Healthcare

Virtual care, also known as telemedicine or telehealth, is a rapidly emerging sector in the healthcare industry that leverages technology to provide remote clinical services.

The scope of virtual care is broad and versatile, from one-on-one doctor’s office consultations to remote patient monitoring, mental health counseling, health education, and even virtual surgeries through robotic technology.

  • It allows healthcare professionals to evaluate, diagnose, prescribe treatment, and offer follow-up care to patients online.
  • This can be facilitated through digital platforms like video conferencing, mobile apps, text-based messaging, and more. 
  • It embodies bringing the clinic to the patient rather than vice versa. Combining technology and healthcare, virtual care breaks geographical barriers, reduces healthcare disparities, and fosters a more efficient and patient-centric approach to medical care.

However, there are downsides:

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What is virtual care vs. telehealth?

Navigating the world of digital healthcare can be complex, but understanding the difference between terms like “virtual care” and “telehealth” can help guide your journey. Here’s a brief rundown of what each term means:

  • Virtual Care: This is a broad term encompassing all the ways healthcare providers remotely interact with their patients, including telemedicine, mobile health apps, patient portals, and more. It aims to make healthcare accessible regardless of geographical location. Source
  • Telehealth: Telehealth is a subset of virtual care that includes both clinical and non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to direct patient care
  • Telemedicine: Often used interchangeably with telehealth, telemedicine is a more specific term focusing on delivering clinical services from a distance using technology. 

Is it possible to get diagnosed online?

In our digitally connected world, it’s natural to wonder if getting a diagnosis online is possible. Here’s what you should know:

  • Online Consultations: Many healthcare providers offer online consultations where they can diagnose various conditions based on symptoms you report and any visual signs they can assess via video call. Mayo Clinic
  • Symptom Checkers: Online tools for inputting your symptoms and receiving potential diagnoses. However, these are not definitive and should be followed up with a healthcare provider.
  • Telepsychiatry: Mental health conditions can often be diagnosed through online consultations with a psychiatrist or psychologist. 
  • Online Dermatology: Some skin conditions can be diagnosed via online platforms where you upload photos for a dermatologist to review. 
  • Virtual Urgent Care: Some urgent care services are available online for non-life-threatening conditions.

What can Teladoc treat? A Great Virtual Clinic Example

Navigating healthcare can be overwhelming, but Teladoc aims to simplify it by offering services tailored to your needs. In our opinion, Teladoc is an excellent example of a virtual clinic.

Here’s an overview of what Teladoc can treat:

  • General Medical Conditions: Teladoc doctors can diagnose and treat a wide range of non-emergency medical issues like flu, allergies, skin problems, and more. Source
  • Mental Health Concerns: Whether you’re dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, Teladoc therapists and psychiatrists help. 
  • Dermatological Issues: Skin problems? Teladoc dermatologists can diagnose and treat a variety of skin conditions remotely. 
  • Sexual Health: Confidentially consult with Teladoc’s healthcare professionals about sexual health concerns, including sexually transmitted infections.
  • Nutrition Counseling: Teladoc’s registered dietitians can provide personalized advice to help you meet your nutrition and health goals. 
  • Expert Medical Services: For complex, rare, or chronic conditions, Teladoc offers a service to review your case and provide expert opinions. 

What is the best online medical service?

Choosing an online medical service can be daunting, but knowing your options can help you make an informed decision that’s right for you.

Here are some of the top-rated online medical services:

  • Teladoc: Offers a wide range of services, from general medical and mental health consultations to dermatology and expert medical opinions. Source
  • Amwell: Provides 24/7 access to doctors for urgent care, therapy, psychiatry, and more. Source
  • MDLive: An online service offering treatment for common illnesses, behavioral health, dermatology, and women’s health. Source
  • Doctor On Demand: Connects you with board-certified doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists for immediate consultations. Source
  • HealthTap: Gives access to doctors 24/7 via video, voice, or text chat and offers a comprehensive health library. Source
  • PlushCare: Allows for easy booking of appointments with top doctors, prescription refills, and ongoing treatment management. Source

Is virtual care more expensive?

Understanding the cost of healthcare is crucial, especially when considering options like virtual care. Here’s what you should know about the cost of virtual care:

  • Comparatively Less Expensive: Generally, virtual visits are less expensive than in-person appointments, making healthcare more accessible for many. 
  • Insurance Coverage Varies: Some insurance plans cover virtual care, which could significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs. Always check with your provider. 
  • Dependent on the Service: The cost of virtual care can vary based on the specific service or treatment needed.
  • Potential Hidden Costs: While the appointment itself may be cheaper, there could be additional costs for prescriptions or follow-up visits. 

Virtual Clinic Conclusion 

Remember, it’s okay to have questions or concerns. Contact your healthcare provider or a trusted telemedicine platform to learn more about virtual clinics and how they can benefit you.

After all, your health is your wealth, and it’s time we started treating it with the convenience and respect it deserves.

Our team would love to hear from you! Please comment below if you have any questions about telehealth or virtual care or a suggestion for a mental health software you think the Online Mental Health Reviews platform should review next. Your input helps us provide our readers with relevant and valuable information about behavioral health services.

If You Are In Crisis

If you’re in a crisis, seeking immediate help and not waiting for an online therapy session is essential. If there’s a danger to you or others, please dial 911 immediately. If you’re grappling with thoughts of self-harm, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is always available – just dial 988 for 24/7 assistance. For those struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) offers free, confidential assistance around the clock every day of the year. They can provide information and guide you to treatment options. Remember, help is always available; you’re not alone in this.

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