What is a telemedicine virtual visit?
Telemedicine uses a video conferencing platform, much like Skype or FaceTime, to connect providers with patients in different locations for outpatient appointments. Patients report great satisfaction with receiving care this way and most would recommend it to their friends and family.
What’s the difference between "telemedicine" and "telehealth"?
“Telemedicine” is the practice of medicine using electronic communications and typically involves the use of secure videoconferencing to replicate a traditional in-person appointment between a provider and a patient.
“Telehealth” is more broadly defined as the use of medical information exchanged via electronic communications and may include telephone or “audio-only” services, secure email, or other methods of transmission.
What are the benefits of a telemedicine virtual visit?
Telemedicine virtual visits allow patients to get care from the comfort of their homes, eliminating the time and cost of traveling for an in-person visit. By seeing your provider from home, you are limiting your exposure and helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.
What are the limitations of a telemedicine virtual visit?
During a telemedicine virtual visit, you may experience technical difficulty with your connection or the software. If this happens, you or your provider can decide to stop the telemedicine visit and connect instead by telephone. It’s important to remember that if you choose to use data with your mobile phone carrier, depending on your phone plan, you may incur data usage fees.
How do I get a telemedicine appointment?
Many providers throughout Dartmouth Health are offering telemedicine appointments. To schedule an appointment, you can contact your provider’s office the same as you would for an in-person appointment.
What kind of technology do I need?
- You can attend your telemedicine appointment with a Dartmouth Health physician or provider from home using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer.
- Make sure your device has a built-in camera/microphone or one that you can attach.
- Preferred internet connections:
- Wired Ethernet (cable plugged into a router or wall jack)
- WiFi (wireless network in-home or office)
- Cellular Network: 5G recommended; 3G or 4G not recommended unless the only option available
To get ready for your virtual visit you will:
- Download Zoom, a free, easy to download, and 100% privacy compliant software.
- If using a mobile device or iPad/tablet, download the myChart app.
- At the time of your visit, log in to your myDH portal, find the visit in your appointments list, click "Details" and then click "Video Visit". This will place you in a virtual waiting room, where you will wait for your provider to connect with you and you will chat via video, just like you would in a Skype or FaceTime session.
What if I don’t have a myDH portal?
We strongly recommend you sign up for a myDH account. With myDH you can check-in for your appointments in advance, request medication refills, access your medical record and billing information, and communicate with your Dartmouth Health health care team.
The process to create a myDH account is quick and easy: www.mydh.org
What if I don't have the right technology or internet connection?
Dartmouth Health is committed to providing health care remotely whenever possible and clinically appropriate to keep patients and staff safe. Your provider may also be able to offer a telephone office visit option if you are unable to connect by video.
How do I get the software?
- As soon as your telemedicine appointment is scheduled by your provider’s office, instructions for downloading the software and connecting to your appointment will be available in your myDH account, along with the appointment notification and any other documentation that may be needed at the time of your appointment.
- When possible, the software should be downloaded a day or two before your scheduled appointment.
If you do not have a myDH account, the telemedicine appointment preparation instructions are also available online.
What if I have trouble or need assistance?
Dartmouth Health has a dedicated technical support line to help patients with their telemedicine appointments. If you need help, please call our Telehealth Technology Help Line, Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Is telemedicine safe and secure?
Telemedicine has been used for decades and is a safe and cost-effective way to attend your medical appointments. Telemedicine is subject to the same privacy rules and regulations as in-person healthcare services. Dartmouth Health’s telemedicine technology is safe, secure, and HIPAA compliant.
During the COVID-19 emergency, government regulations are allowing for the use of some videoconferencing platforms that are not HIPAA compliant. Dartmouth Health is continuing to use our standard secure and HIPAA compliant tools to the greatest extent possible; however, to expand our ability to offer telemedicine services to our patients as broadly and as efficiently as possible, we may introduce other platforms. In this case, please be assured that we will do everything we can to protect your privacy and will always comply with the current governmental regulations.
Does my health insurance cover telehealth?
Please note that during the COVID-19 emergency, there are special waivers expanding telehealth coverage. Under usual circumstances, Medicare, NH, and VT Medicaid, and most commercial health insurance plans* cover many telehealth services. For Medicare, there are some restrictions related to where you live and eligible locations for receiving care by telemedicine (for example, telemedicine appointments for Medicare patients at home are typically not covered). There may be limitations related to what kinds of services providers may deliver by telehealth.
Special considerations during the COVID-19 emergency
Special federal and state waivers and executive orders are in temporary effect during the COVID-19 emergency to expand coverage for telehealth services and certain restrictions have been lifted specifically to allow us to provide care during COVID-19.
- Medicare, NH/VT Medicaid, and commercial insurance:
- Will pay for telephone and telemedicine (video) visits for patients at home as medically necessary and appropriate
- Have expanded the list of eligible providers and eligible services
- Will not require patient cost-sharing (co-payments, deductibles, or co-insurance) for medically necessary treatment delivered by telehealth related to COVID-19
- Cost-sharing for care not related to COVID-19 may be as usual; though many plans are also waiving cost-sharing at this time for telehealth services
*Please note that self-insured (employer-based) commercial insurance plans may not be required to comply with governmental coverage mandates, even during the COVID-19 emergency.
How do I know if I am covered?
It is always best to contact your insurance company to ask about their coverage of telehealth appointments.
What if I don't have health insurance?
On April 3, 2020, President Trump announced that the Federal Government will pay for COVID-19 related care for patients who do not have health insurance.