Ask the Expert: Are video visits better than phone for telehealth?
Akanksha Mehta, MD
There are many good things to say about telehealth visits. They can better connect patients to their doctors. They can also offer patients who live in rural areas or have a harder time driving, better access to their provider.
While many telehealth visits take place by video, some visits can also be done over the phone. Some patients do not have a computer with a webcam or don’t have a smartphone. They may even have unreliable Wi-Fi. For these patients, phone calls may be their only telehealth choice.
There are some clear benefits to the doctor and patient being able to see each other. The doctor can see the facial expression of the patient and gauge whether they seem very worried or confused. This can help guide the conversation. For the patient, it can be reassuring to have eye contact with the doctor while talking about a health issue. Many video visits only involve speaking. But sometimes it is helpful if the patient can show the doctor the area of concern.
If given the choice, I think many doctors would favor a video visit over a phone visit. But in cases where a video visit is not possible or is not easy for the patient, a phone visit may work better. Check with your urologist when making your appointment to ensure these type of visits are covered by your insurance.
Dr. Akanksha Mehta is a urologist, associate professor and residency program director at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.
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