During the COVID pandemic, as many insurances started to see the necessity of telemedicine (i.e. video and telephone calls in place of in-person visits), many types of “healthcare providers” and services jumped to the forefront for these types of visits. Services like Teladoc, having been around a long time, started getting more notoriety for the virtual service they offer. It’s important to understand the differences between telehealth and virtual services and telemedicine appointments with your own doctor.
Direct Primary Care practices like ours have always offered remote access to your doctor directly. Video calls, phone calls, text and email have always been a part of our services. We do not farm out phone calls to answering services at Direct Doctors - when you need something you will hear from your doctor, or in rare cases one of our other doctors who is covering. You will know who this person is and you will already have a relationship with them. This is important - when you get sick and want to avoid coming into an office for a visit during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can reach your doctor to have a remote visit and have your questions answered and testing and medications prescribed, if indicated.
Services like Teladoc offer on-call physicians who are working remotely and calling in for phone calls when a patient requests it. While they can answer quick and easy questions, they cannot order tests and they can prescribe a limited portion of medications. They can recommend you go be seen elsewhere, when they feel it is outside their scope - because ultimately they don’t know you and your history. This service is very minimal and works in a pinch for folks who have no remote access to their doctor. But, clearly this does not replace a video visit with your own PCP.
Next time you wish you could just call or text your own doctor with a question, think about how great it would be to be a patient at Direct Doctors. To get the access to your doctor that you need and deserve, check out how we practice primary care differently at www.directdoctors.org.
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.