How a Telehealth Visit Actually Works

Teleheath on the Hims & Hers platform.

Have you had a digital medical appointment yet? Here’s what you can expect from your first experience.

Telehealth is playing a critical role as the healthcare system faces unprecedented demand during the coronavirus outbreak. Why? It allows patients to access health care without leaving home. Telehealth platforms have been around for a long time, but now more and more people are turning to online, virtual care first.

What people are learning is just how convenient telehealth is. No waiting on hold to get an appointment; no taking time off work to go to the doctor’s office; no hours in a waiting room with other sick people; frankly, no need to get off the couch at all. Telehealth allows patients to get care online for a variety of health concerns, including but not limited to, common colds and the flu, acne, and certain gynecological issues. Not only are digital health professionals able to review patients’ concerns, but they can also provide treatment plans and prescribe medication. Ultimately, working with healthcare practitioners virtually can be very similar to doing so in-person, with the exception of some of the inconveniences that come with an in-person appointment (parking spaces, anyone?).

Don’t know what to expect when booking a telehealth appointment? We’re going to break it down for you.

Connecting with a Health Care Practitioner…

The initial step in receiving access to health care with Hims & Hers is signing up for an account on forhims.com or forhers.com. Patients may be required to provide multiple forms of ID and answer an in-depth series of questions about their health, lifestyle, symptoms, and medical history. This information is pertinent for the physician or nurse practitioner who will help them, but also helps protect against any fraudulent activity on the platform.

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An example of medical intake questions on the Hims & Hers platform.

Once this intake process is complete, a health care practitioner licensed in the patient’s state will conduct a comprehensive review of the patient’s information. The patient will be virtually connected to that practitioner and provided with their full name and medical license number. A consultation will then take place either over chat, video or telephone (depending on the state the patient is in). As part of that consultation, the practitioner advises the patient about next steps. That can include a recommendation that the patient pursue in-person treatment outside of the platform, or the practitioner may determine the patient can be appropriately treated through the platform, which may include a prescription.

Prescriptions written by a practitioner through the Hims & Hers platform can in most cases be fulfilled through third-party pharmacies working with Hims & Hers and delivered to your door by mail, or they can be sent to a local pharmacy of the patients’ choice. For medication that isn’t available through Hims & Hers, patients can choose to pick-up at their local pharmacy. Additionally, Hims & Hers offers 24/7 support to patients and access to the health care practitioners to answer any follow-up questions stemming from the appointment.

If you want more detail on the patient visit process, this post provides a step-by-step example of what it’s like to seek care for erectile dysfunction.

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Ways to Virtually Connect with a Health Care Practitioner

States have varying requirements for how health care practitioners and patients can interact digitally, so Hims & Hers offers multiple means of communication to ensure that people in all 50 states are able to access care from our platform. Here’s a quick snapshot of the ways we are able to connect patients and health care practitioners:

  • Asynchronous: In states where asynchronous telehealth is permitted, these visits are conducted via messaging, and may include written communications as well as the submission of photographic images. It allows patients to share their concerns and symptoms with a health care practitioner whenever works best for them. It provides much-needed flexibility for people who find it hard to make the time to visit a doctor’s office. This is our most used form of communication.
  • Synchronous: These visits take place via phone or video, so patients and practitioners are required to stick to a scheduled appointment time.

Choosing Telehealth Outside the Pandemic

There are so many reasons why telehealth should be your go-to for non-emergency health care, even after the pandemic comes to an end. The greater convenience of receiving virtual care is undeniable; you can access health care from anywhere (including rural areas), so long as you have an internet connection. Companies like Hims & Hers believe health care should not only be accessible, but affordable too. Hims & Hers works hard with medical providers and pharmacies to keep prices as affordable as possible. For example, primary care visits on the platform start at $39 and it’s currently free to join our anonymous group support sessions led by mental health professionals. In short, telehealth can be a lot more affordable than getting health care in person (plus, you won’t have to relinquish work hours, or pay a bus fare to get there!).

We believe telehealth will continue to grow following the pandemic as millions of people realize how easy it is to access care online. We are humbled by the industry’s evolution during these trying times and feel grateful our platform can help make life easier for our colleagues on the front lines.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.