In my day job, I spend a lot of time talking with business owners about how they can support their employees’ health and wellness. We’ve got a lot of tools we can recommend, but the one option we keep coming back to, and recommending time and time again, is telemedicine.
What is telemedicine?
The best way for me to explain what it’s like to use digital healthcare, or telemedicine, is to share my family’s experience using Wello, an Alberta-based provider, to supplement our healthcare over the last year.
Here is our family's experience.
My family has some major healthcare needs.. After all, we are a big, blended crew with 6 kids aged 9 – 18 in our house. Throw in two businesses, two dogs and a few chronic health conditions (I am anemic and my son has ADHD), our life is big, busy and beautiful.
When we need healthcare, we need it quickly and it needs to be effective.
When I Use Wello
I’ve used Wello probably ten times over the last year. And we’ve used it for a lot of reasons, including:
- I called Wello to get immediate results from an ultrasound. My doctor was on holidays over the summer and I couldn’t get an appointment for 3 weeks.
- I used Wello when I was worried I was bitten by a tick. I was vacationing in BC and not close to any medical clinics.
- I phoned Wello to get a blood test to check my iron levels
- We used Wello to request a specialist appointment with a skin doctor to treat some funny looking moles
How Quickly Can I get An Appointment?
This is probably my favourite thing about Wello. Appointments are available on average within 5-20 minutes of requesting one. This is super handy, especially because I am prone to googling my symptoms, and going down an entirely unnecessary and anxiety-inducing rabbit hole on Web MD.
Now, I can get healthcare advice for me or my kids, almost immediately, any time of the day or night.
You’re Not Actually Seeing a Doctor
This can get confusing, but it’s important to note that appointments through Wello are delivered by Nurse Practitioners. NP’s are not doctors, but they have many of the same skills and abilities as a general medical practitioner (GP). They can write and renew prescriptions, for example. They can order and interpret diagnostic tests, they can diagnose and treat conditions as well.
The Follow Up Care is Appreciated
Can you imagine getting an email from your doctor a few days after visiting them? “Just checking in to see if your symptoms have resolved, and if you are feeling better”. Quite a few times, I have received a message like this from my Wello Nurse Practitioner, asking if I was feeling better. I actually felt looked-out for, and I appreciated the follow-up.
Telemedicine Has It's Limitations, Too
There have been a few drawbacks to using Wello, which I’ve learned about.
- For example, they can’t prescribe some types of medications through telemedicine, like my son’s ADHD medicine. They also won’t prescribe some pain medications or sleep aids.
- One time I phoned them because my flu and cough symptoms weren’t resolving. They diagnosed me with post-flu symptoms and said I would feel better soon. But the reality was I was getting pneumonia, which landed me in the hospital a few days later.
- The other obvious drawback is the nurse isn’t actually able to touch you. For me, this means it’s still important I keep my family doctor, especially for a once-annual physical. I want to stay on top of my pap smears, blood pressure, breast exams, and all those other awesome and important things.
Am I worried about cross-over with having Wello and my family doctor?
No – Wello can access my electronic health records (through Alberta Health), so they can see the same things my family doctor can see.
I am happy to take a ‘blended’ approach to our family’s healthcare. I feel quite lucky (and realize how privileged I am) to have both options.
We will continue to use Wello when we need urgent, medical advice. And we will continue to see our family doctor to manage our overall wellbeing and proactive care.
A Pandemic Life Saver
Life has changed for all of us this year. Just going to visit the doctor has become more difficult than ever with Covid health-screens, delayed appointments and an over-burdened system. This is where using telemedicine has been the pandemic life hack that has made our life substantially easier this year.
The Employee Benefit Option that is a Game Changer
So – that’s been our family’s experience with Wello. Of all the employee benefit options that we actually take advantage of, this one has been the most valuable and the one we use the most.
So, in my day job we’ll keep recommending it and I’ll keep yelling from the roof tops that telemedicine is an employee benefit game-changer.