What to Know About Telehealth for Allergies

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Telehealth can provide individuals with allergies the opportunity to access their healthcare provider from their own homes through technology. The challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly increased the availability and utilization of telehealth services.

The benefits of telehealth include decreased travel time, convenience, and protection from exposure to COVID-19. Learn how to make the most of your telehealth visit.

Telehealth visit with doctor for allergies

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When to Use Telehealth for Allergies

Telehealth can be used in many cases, but may be inappropriate in other scenarios. For example, telehealth may be a good option if:

  • You have questions about your medication or a non-emergent side effect.
  • You develop a new symptom that is not severe or emergent.
  • You need refills on your prescriptions.
  • This is a routine follow-up intended to manage chronic allergies.

You May Need to Be Seen in Person If...

Telehealth is not an appropriate option if:

Benefits and Challenges

Using telehealth for your allergies might be an appealing option if you lack adequate transportation, are pressed for time, or are worried about contracting COVID-19 or other contagious illnesses. You can also keep your appointment without exposing others if you are under quarantine or have symptoms of an infectious disease.

Communication with your healthcare professional can be excellent even when opting to use telehealth. A 2020 study showed that 93% of patients with allergies rated their telehealth appointment as “good or very good.”

Benefits of telehealth include:

  • Decreased travel time and expense
  • Less time out of your day
  • Convenience
  • Decreased spread of COVID-19 and other contagious diseases

Challenges related to telehealth are usually due to the lack of a physical exam and your provider’s ability to have actual contact with you. Approximately 43% of healthcare providers surveyed reported more difficulty managing their patients due to the lack of physical in-person contact.

This may be more of a problem in certain situations and depending on the quality of technology used. Other challenges related to using telehealth instead of an in-office visit include:

  • You have a poor internet connection or low-quality technology.
  • You may have to visit the office or hospital anyway if tests such as bloodwork are ordered.
  • There is a possibility of something being missed that normally would have been detected during the physical examination.
  • You can’t give your healthcare provider a set of vital signs to evaluate.

How to Prepare for Your Telehealth Visit for Allergies

A doctor who specializes in the treatment of allergies is called an immunologist. However, other specialists also follow and treat allergy patients.

It is unlikely that your current allergy provider isn’t doing telehealth visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can easily determine this with a phone call to the office. If they do not, you can ask the office if they have a referral to another allergy provider who is offering telehealth.

Another option, if you have healthcare insurance, is to call your insurance company and ask for help finding a provider. You can often find a “member services” or “patient advocate” hotline on the back of your insurance card.

This is also a great time to check what your cost for telehealth will be. Some states have reduced costs and moved to make telehealth more available for everyone during the pandemic.

Once you have selected a provider, call to set up the appointment. During this phone call, you will want to write some things down about your appointment. In addition to your visit’s date and time, you will need to know if it is necessary to log in before your appointment time and what kind of virtual technology you will be using.

Before your appointment, you will want to make sure you have a good internet connection and that any necessary software or applications have been downloaded.

Sometimes your doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant will have you log in a bit early to talk to a medical assistant and to give you plenty of time to make sure your virtual setup is adequate.

If possible, try to figure out a place to have your virtual visit that is also quiet and free from distractions.

As with in-person visits, it is a good idea to write down questions you have for your healthcare provider before your visit. This helps to ensure good communication and that nothing is overlooked.

Examples of questions might be:

  • Is this a symptom of my allergies or a medication I am taking?
  • When do I need to follow up with you about my condition?
  • How long do you expect before my symptoms subside?

If you have a skin condition such as a rash, make sure you wear clothing that allows you to show this to your healthcare provider easily. If the condition is not easily seen during your visit, your provider may have you send separate pictures of the condition after the visit has ended.

It is also a good idea to make sure you have the name, address, and phone number of your preferred pharmacy on hand before your visit starts. This will be necessary if your healthcare provider needs to call in any prescriptions for you.

Will My Insurance Cover Telehealth?

In 2020, many private insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid expanded their telehealth coverage, and some even opted to wave co-pays. Blue Cross Blue Shield and some other insurers have made telehealth coverage permanent, while others only temporarily cover virtual visits during the pandemic.

It also may depend on the state you live in, as some states specifically expanded coverage for telehealth or changed the requirements surrounding coverage in response to the pandemic. To find out your specific coverage, you will need to call your insurance company prior to your visit.

What Happens During the Visit?

While every visit looks different, most telehealth visits for allergies will follow a specific format. You may first be greeted by a medical assistant who will make sure you have a good connection and that the technology is fully functioning.

They will also ask you some basic questions such as what medications you are currently taking, if you need any refills, what the purpose of your visit is, and what allergy symptoms you currently have. After you talk to the medical assistant, you can expect to be connected to your healthcare provider.

Your healthcare provider will likely ask you to explain the purpose of your visit and ask you some relevant questions to help them understand your condition. Don’t be surprised if you are asked some of the same questions you were asked by the medical assistant.

Examples of things your healthcare provider might want to know include:

  • When did your current symptoms start?
  • Have you tried any over-the-counter medications or other home remedies for your symptoms?
  • Do your allergy symptoms correlate with an exposure to a specific substance?

If you have a skin rash or other condition that your healthcare provider needs to see, you will want to make it as visually accessible as possible. As noted above, if needed, your provider may ask you to send separate pictures of your condition after the visit has ended.

When your healthcare provider has finished visiting with you and feels they have a handle on your condition, recommendations will be made. In some cases you may need to be referred for in-person treatment or diagnostic testing (skin biopsies or bloodwork, for example).

Prescriptions can usually be called in to your preferred pharmacy, and a follow-up appointment can be set up over the phone if needed.

A Word From Verywell

Allergies to food, pollen, pet dander, and mold are extremely common chronic conditions, as are associated diagnoses such as asthma. These conditions can be frustrating and debilitating. Regular visits to a qualified healthcare professional are necessary for the best treatment outcomes.

You don’t need to compromise your health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people suffering from allergies can benefit from telehealth visits.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Morais-Almeida M, Sousa CS, Barbosa MT, Aguiar R, Benito-Garcia F. Telehealth: The future is now in allergy practiceJ Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020;8(8):2836-2837. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2020.06.044

  2. AARP.org. Private insurers expand telehealth coverage. August 2020

By Kristin Hayes, RN
Kristin Hayes, RN, is a registered nurse specializing in ear, nose, and throat disorders for both adults and children.