Health Information Technology   Telehealth    Consumer Telehealth

Understanding Telehealth – For Health Care Consumers

Telehealth can be a good option to receive a broad range of care using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.  You can communicate with a health care provider over the phone or video chat, send and receive secure email messages, or gather vitals and other information through a device to monitor and improve ongoing health.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services

Why Telehealth Is a Valuable Option

Telehealth services that can be a substitute for in-person office visits provide opportunities to reduce barriers in access to health care services and help improve health outcomes.  This is particularly true for those living in certain geographic areas (e.g., rural communities) or among specific populations (e.g., low income, homeless, etc.).  For example, telehealth makes access to primary care more readily available in designated Health Professional Shortage Area (or HPSA) where there is a shortage of services for a subset or the entire population within a geographic area; this can be particularly helpful for individuals with chronic conditions that need to be managed on an ongoing basis.

Use of telehealth can minimize barriers that may prevent you from seeing a provider, such as arranging for childcare, finding transportation, or taking time off from work or school.  It is a convenient option for non-urgent issues like cold or flu, rashes, aches and pains, and minor illnesses like pink eye or strep throat.  It can also be a good option to help you manage behavioral health (like depression and anxiety) or chronic conditions (like diabetes and heart disease).  In some cases, in-person office visits may be necessary due to urgency, underlying health conditions, or the need for a physical examination.  Talk to your provider about telehealth options or find telehealth care through your insurance carrier.

Sources: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Health Resources & Services Administration; U.S Dept. of Health & Human Services

Want to Learn More?

Check out these MHCC informational flyers about telehealth, including answers to frequently asked questions.

Need help getting online?

The Affordable Connectivity Program

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a Federal Communications Commission program that helps connect families and households struggling to afford internet service.  The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.  Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers.

You can learn more about the benefit, including eligibility and enrollment information by visiting or by calling 877-384-2575. 

Library Resources 

Most Maryland public libraries will let you check out a laptop or tablet computer, just like a book. They also offer free internet access, including community Wi-Fi sites (you go to a location to connect to Wi-Fi) and mobile hotspots (you borrow a portable device to connect to Wi-Fi from home). Want to learn how to be a better user of technology? Many libraries provide free computer training. Check your local library for availability.

Are you a Veteran?

Did you know the Veterans Administration (VA) offers telehealth services for primary care, mental health, and over 50 specialty care areas? VA Video Connect allows you to easily connect with providers to receive care and monitor your health using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Several cellular carriers are waiving data charges when using VA Video Connect. The VA may also be able to lend you an internet-enabled device. Click here to learn more.

Additional Resources

Telehealth for Patients - U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Telehealth and Behavioral Health - U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Telehealth Basics - American Telemedicine Association

How Patients Can Engage Telehealth - National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers

Visit to search for support services in your area, including financial assistance, food pantries, medical care, and other free or reduced-cost services.

Further Research

Visit this searchable directory of research based on telehealth studies funded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.  Articles explore a variety of telehealth topics, including quality and effectiveness of virtual care, patient experience and satisfaction, and disparities in telehealth use and access.



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Last Updated: 5/10/2023