Colorectal Cancer and Telehealth
Get the most out of your telehealth experience with your healthcare team.
While telehealth has been around for years, a majority of people hadn’t experienced it until the novel coronavirus spread through the United States, forcing medical offices and hospitals to limit in-person care.
Fight CRC understands that telehealth (also called telemedicine) will continue to play a vital role in supporting your health and wellness as it expands into more areas of healthcare. Challenges still exist for many who are new to virtual communication, but for many others, telehealth provides access to innovative services that were previously difficult to obtain. In response to both the positives and negatives of embracing telehealth as part of your care plan, we’ve created resources that will encourage you to get the most out of telehealth.
What is Telehealth?
Simply put, telehealth is using technology to get health services remotely. This can be done via phone or computer and can be used for a wide array of healthcare services. Many healthcare systems have smartphone apps to make the experience as easy as possible for the patient.
No Tech Skills Required!
Telehealth visits are simple and straightforward. If you are unsure how to proceed with the appointment, make sure to call your doctor’s office in advance to ask about support.
You can also check out our Q&A with Dr. Al Benson, an Oncologist and Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University and member of our Medical Advisory Board, on the most relevant details colorectal cancer patients need to know about engaging in virtual care.
What Kind of Appointments Do Telehealth Visits Cover?
Telehealth appointments can cover a wide array of appointment types. While you cannot get your chemo infusion or surgery virtually, many types of appointments can be done well using telehealth such as colonoscopy consultations, post-op check-ins, lab result reviews, genetic counselor discussions, and more.
If you are a cancer patient, it’s likely that you’ve already established care with your treatment team – therefore they know your medical history. However, when scheduling your appointment, make sure to check with your care team if an in-person visit would be preferred.
While telehealth is incredibly useful for many types of appointments, in-person appointments may still be preferred depending on the reason for the appointment. Ask your doctor and make sure to check in about the safety measures in place for any in-person visits.
What About My Prescriptions?
Most providers will provide prescription refills via telehealth appointments or through an email request.
Will My Insurance Cover It?
Most insurance companies offer some sort of coverage for telehealth visits. It’s always best to call your insurance provider first to make sure your appointments are covered, as well as the amount covered, so you aren’t caught off guard with an unexpected bill.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Just like in-person appointments, make sure you have a caregiver or loved one with you for your appointment. Have a list of questions, side effects, concerns, and any other talking points. If connecting via computer, check your camera, microphone, and internet before the visit to make sure you have a good connection.
“Make a list of questions you want to ask that you can have in front of you. Take time to test the system they want you to use beforehand, and don’t assume you know how to use it if it’s a platform you’re familiar with. Get on at least 15 minutes early to make sure you aren’t having any Internet issues.”Anna Rappaport, Research Advocate
While telehealth is a new method of care, don’t be nervous to try it out. Being able to access your doctors and members of your health care team from home is part of the current, and future delivery of healthcare.
Telehealth and Health Equity
Check out this Wellness Wednesday episode with Dr. Dominique Howard, MD, FACG at George Washington University Hospital and Sibley Memorial Hospital. Dr. Howard covers access to telehealth services, barriers to colonoscopy screening in the time of COVID-19, and the importance of knowing your family history.