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| April 27, 2020
Having choices when it comes to your health care decisions is a good thing. But making the right choice about where to go for care can be overwhelming — especially during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Telemedicine access has been expanded for a number of individuals at this time. Of course, there may be some circumstances when you still need to see a doctor in person. Having the information you need to better understand how to access care can help you make the right decisions when health needs arise.
When you or a loved one needs care, follow this decision tree to figure out where to go:
What about telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a smart, virtual solution that can help you avoid unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office, urgent care, or the ER. This can help ensure that you don’t put yourself, or others, at risk.
Many providers are now offering video or phone visits. However, if your health care provider does not offer telemedicine services, you can also access remote support through app-based telemedicine providers such as Doctor On Demand, a Harvard Pilgrim partner. Doctor On Demand is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Use telemedicine to avoid crowded waiting rooms, reduce your exposure to COVID-19, and help to contain the spread of the disease.
If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing mild symptoms (fever, cough, or shortness of breath), call your health care provider for medical advice first.
Visit Harvard Pilgrim Health Care’s site to see how they’re handling coverage for members.
Of course, patients experiencing medical emergencies should always head to the emergency room. No type of acute pain should be delayed in treatment. Chest and severe abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face, or severe bleeding are all reasons to go to an emergency room immediately. Serious head injuries should also be immediately checked at an ER.
Tips for readiness
Save your doctor’s phone number in your mobile phone for easy access. Many practices have coverage for non-office hours, so you likely can reach your doctor or another medical professional who can access your records when necessary.
You can also proactively put a backup plan in place by downloading the Doctor On Demand app from the App Store or Google Play. When an in-person visit isn’t avoidable, the app will also show urgent care and convenience care clinics that are closest to you, including their hours of operation.