What is virtual care?
Virtual care is health care you get by a phone call or video call with a doctor or nurse. It’s also called telehealth or telemedicine. It’s a safe and easy way to get care without an in-person office visit. You can get virtual care anywhere you can get internet or cell phone service.
How does a virtual visit work?
Virtual visits work through the internet on your computer, tablet or smartphone. For some health problems, a virtual visit can save you time and money.
What do you need for a virtual visit?
You’ll need a computer, phone or tablet.
Your doctor's office can tell you how to set up a virtual visit. It can be different at each office. You might get a website address that leads to a patient portal. Or your doctor might use a special app.
After you sign into your visit, you’ll be connected with your doctor. You can ask questions just like you would in the office. You may choose to use video so they can see you or simply talk by phone. Either way, your connection will be private and secure.
When is virtual care a good choice?
Virtual care works well when you're not sure if you need to go to the doctor. For example, if you have a sore throat or a slight cold. It’s also easy to stay up-to-date with ongoing health problems. Virtual care is great if you live far from your doctor or specialist.
What kind of care can you get?
Virtual care is good for:
- Colds or coughs
- Meal counseling
- Mental health counseling
- Questions about prescriptions
- Results from lab tests or X-rays
- Skin conditions
- Stomach aches
- Surgery follow-up visits
- Urinary tract infections
- Wellness visits
Can you do lab tests with virtual care?
Yes. You may get a special device or tool you can connect to your computer. It can test for breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. You might also get a virtual physical exam.
What does virtual care offer me?
Virtual visits are getting more and more popular. Here's why:
- No need for childcare
- No travel or time off from work
- The ease of health care at home, at work or even in your car
- Visit with specialists who might be far away from your hometown
You and your doctor can decide if virtual care is right for you. Virtual care is covered under most health plans, just like in-person visits.
See a doctor from the comfort of home
Meet with a provider online to take care of common symptoms.
- Health Resources and Services Administration. Telehealth: Health care from the safety of our homes. August 16, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Telehealth: What to know for your family. (PDF) March 2021.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. What is telehealth? August 16, 2021.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.