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What is Telehealth?

How to Prepare for Your First Appointment

Telehealth or telemedicine isn’t a new concept. In fact, health care providers have been using electronic tools to connect patients to their providers for decades. Never before, however, has its popularity taken off the way it has during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changing the way health care is delivered during the pandemic has been critical to reduce staff exposure to ill patients, preserve precious personal protective equipment (PPE) and minimize the spread of the novel virus. In a matter of weeks, healthcare systems have had to adapt to new ways to care for their patients while minimizing the risk of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is a smart, safe choice for seeking care, especially during the pandemic. As states continue to open, many individuals are still feeling concerned about going out. Telemedicine can be a great solution during this time to help ease patient’s minds and protect themselves and others from the virus, while also making connecting to a doctor possible. 

Telehealth uses electronic information and telecommunication technologies to provide patients care when they aren’t in the same place as their doctor. All that is needed is a phone, tablet or computer with internet access and you may be able to:

  • Talk to your doctor live over the phone or video.
  • Send and receive messages from your doctor through chat, email and secure messaging and file exchange.

As telehealth continues to prove a useful tool during this pandemic, many services and providers have started to adapt and are now offering virtual visits, including providing: 

  • Routine chronic care and preventative health
  • Urgent medical care
  • Mental health services 
  • Physical, speech and occupational therapy

How to Prepare for a Virtual Visit

Members of Allina Health | Aetna can access 24/7 virtual nonemergency care covered by the same copay as an in-person visit. To start, review your plan coverage by visiting the member portal to confirm your telemedicine benefits coverage and review your plan details. You can also call the number on your ID card. 

Once you are ready for a telehealth appointment there are three easy ways to get support, including:

  • Call your primary care physician: Call your doctor or mental health professional to see if they are participating in telemedicine. Since they already know your medical history, they are a great first option. 
  • Use Teladoc telemedicine services: If your doctor isn’t available and you need care right away or if it is after hours or on a weekend, you can meet with a Teladoc doctor or mental health professional by phone or video. Get access to Teladoc through the Aetna HealthSM app
  • Find virtual care providers in your state: If your doctor isn’t offering telemedicine or if you are looking for more options you can search for more providers here

Once you’ve scheduled your appointment, here are a few pointers to keep in mind. 

  • Check your equipment: Since most telehealth visits incorporate a video component, make sure your audio and video functionality work on your phone, tablet or computer. Make sure your device is charged or connected to a power source and that you check for a strong internet connection. 
  • Find a quiet, private spot: Although many of us are stuck at home with our loved ones, if possible, find a quiet, comfortable and private place for you to connect with your provider. If you can’t physically move to a separate place, consider using headphones or earbuds to improve the privacy of the conversation. 
  • Patience is key: The telehealth experience is new to not only a lot of patients but many providers too. Plan for there to be a few bumps along the way, like a dropped connection or a frozen video screen. Keeping an open mind and remembering to be patient can be helpful for your first experience. 

Remember that just because we are in a pandemic doesn’t mean that care can stop. Always speak with your doctor if you aren’t feeling well to find the best course of action for you. 

This material is for information only. Not all health services are covered. See plan documents for a complete description of benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations. Health information programs provide general health information and are not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment by a physician or other health care professional. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date; however, it is subject to change. Policies and plans are insured and/or administered by Aetna Life Insurance Company (Aetna). Refer to for more information about Aetna® Teledoc: Terms and Conditions: YG. Privacy Policy: By texting 90156, you consent to receive a one-time marketing automated text message from Aetna with a link to download the Aetna HealthSM app. Consent is not required to download the app. You can also download by going to the App Store or Google Play. ©2020 Teladoc Health, Inc. All rights reserved. Teladoc and the Teladoc logo are registered trademarks of Teladoc Health, Inc. For a complete description of the Teladoc program and the limitations of Teladoc services, visit

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Health benefits and health plans are offered, underwritten or administered by Allina Health and Aetna Insurance Company (Allina Health | Aetna).  Allina Health l Aetna is an affiliate of Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).  Allina Health | Aetna has sole responsibility for its products and services. Aetna provides certain management services to Allina Health | Aetna. Aetna and MinuteClinic, LLC (which either operates or provides certain management support services to MinuteClinic-branded walk-in clinics) are both within the CVS Health family.

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This material is for information only and is not an offer or invitation to contract. Health benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. Providers are independent contractors and not our agents. Provider participation may change without notice. We do not provide care or guarantee access to health services. Not all health services are covered. See plan documents for a complete description of benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features and availability are subject to change and may vary by location. If you are in a plan that requires the selection of a primary care physician and your primary care physician is part of an integrated delivery system or physician group, your primary care physician will generally refer you to specialists and hospitals that are part of the delivery system or physician group. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date; however, it is subject to change.

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