More health care happens outside the doctor’s office

Technology is redefining health care, and it includes more than just cutting-edge surgical treatments and advances in important routine tests like mammograms. Healthcare is increasingly delivered outside the doctor’s office through virtual care: confidential, personalized care delivered via phone, email, chat or video visit.

Visits that would otherwise require a trip to a healthcare provider or pharmacy can now often be done at home, such as regular video checkups for ongoing conditions, follow-up care after surgery, or medication refills online and mailed directly to your home. Home. For patients for whom getting to a health care provider may be more challenging (elderly adults, rural and some underserved communities, and people who are unable to leave work during business hours), virtual care can increase access to overall health care.

What exactly is virtual care?

“Telemedicine” options include video or phone visits where you can talk to a doctor or nurse face-to-face or over the phone—just like an in-person visit. Some health plans or providers, such as Kaiser Permanente in Washington, also offer services such as online chat with a health care team, access your medical records through a secure portal, reorder medications, view test results online, and send your health care Message Team.

For video visits and some other services, you’ll need to use a computer, iPad, or mobile device, but most platforms have easy-to-use instructions that just require you to click on a link.

What is virtual care used for?

Preventive care and daily care: Regular routine care like preventive screenings and annual exams can meet anticipated needs and catch problems before you get sick. Virtual care can help you access many scheduled routine care services throughout your care journey.

Special care services: Whether you’re seeing a specialist for the first time (with a referral if needed), following up on a past diagnosis, or treating a current condition, many specialists, including pediatrics, dermatology, and physical therapy, are often available virtually as well.

Emergency health problems: Virtual care can help you get unexpected care when a health issue arises and you can’t wait for a routine visit. You can usually get answers directly from your care team within a day or so via email, have a video or phone visit with a provider, or speak to a counseling line day or night.

Refill prescription: If you don’t want to go to the pharmacy, you can request a refill and we’ll mail it directly to you. Or, depending on your plan, you can fill your prescription at a community pharmacy or Kaiser Permanente location. If a doctor’s approval is needed, a pharmacist can contact your provider.

Do not use telemedicine for emergency or emergency care: If you are experiencing a medical or mental health emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. For urgent issues, check with your plan or provider for urgent care options.

Health plans cover many virtual care options for free, but access levels may vary. Comprehensive health plans like Kaiser Permanente may connect you with your primary provider and their care team, specialists, and 24/7 virtual care teams, where you can receive immediate care without having to talk to a clinician who has the authority to understand your health. Doctor’s appointment records.

Technology is another tool you can leverage to support your health goals and collaborate with your provider team. To learn more about integrating technology into your health care, visit

Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care and improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.

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