ROCKWALL, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - With the click of a button, you can see a doctor without ever leaving your home.
Telemedicine is booming. But as the practice grows in popularity, so do the chances of getting duped.
Telehealth makes visits easier for busy parents or workers who can't take a sick day.
But patients should keep important tips in mind before making an appointment.
TIP #1: MEDIUM MATTERS
Technically, telehealth can be facilitated via text message, video chats and even voice calls.
But patients should not solely use Facetime because the app is not HIPAA-compliant, which means it fails to meet federal privacy laws.
Rockwall Urgent Care uses a video system specifically designed for telemedicine. Patients can only make appointments through the website or a secure app.
Then, the next available staff member takes the call. Currently, Rockwall Urgent Care charges $75 per visit.
TIP #2: AVOID COLD CALLS
Experts say it is best to trust a provider you already know.
"Most of the patients we see are established patients," said Dr. Scott Pierce, who works at Rockwall Urgent Care.
Pierce said patients should usually only use doctors they trust.
A call out of the blue could be a red flag.
Debbie Calitri of Keller, said it happened to her.
"It really upsets me," Calitri said. "It really does."
Calitri received a call from Telemedicine, LLC, which is a company she said she'd never heard of.
Calitri said the company told her it could prescribe her some medications. During the call, Calitri chatted with an employee for several minutes and provided her health history.
Calitri said the following consultation with the doctor was even shorter, barely lasting two minutes.
"He says, 'Okay, we'll send the medication.' I said, 'But I'm waiting for them to verify what it's gonna cost me.' He says, 'Oh well, don't worry about it'," Calitri said.
Not only that, the bill that Calitri received listed no contact information.
"If they don't readily give you information on how to contact them, that's a red flag," Pierce said.
TIP #3: CHECK YOUR TELEDOCTOR
By law, doctors must be licensed in the state where they practice.
"One would have to go back and look at their paperwork and look up that person's name," said Neale Chumbler, the dean of the College of Health and Pubic Service at the University of North Texas.
To verify a license, click here.
Chumbler said it's okay for teledoctors to live out of state, but they must also have a valid license wherever else they practice.
A lawyer for Telemedicine, LLC said the company does not solicit customers. Instead, the lawyer said the business only calls people who opt in to be contacted.
Calitri maintains that she has never heard of the company.
On average, telemedicine visits cost patients approximately $79, as compared to $146 for a doctor's visit, according to a 2017 study published by RAND Corporation, a public policy think tank.
Yet telehealth falls short of some ailments.
Patients with serious health issues, including head injuries, breathing issues and heart palpitations, should visit an emergency room.
But patients should check their insurance because every provider is different.
Some providers are not involving insurance companies at this time because the concept is still so new.
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