We packed our bags, donned our masks, and headed out for a socially distanced vacation down on the Texas coast. It had been quite a while since our family had attempted a long weekend out of town, as the pandemic had cancelled all kinds of travel plans in the preceding months. As the miles spun beneath our tires, we all gave a collective inhale and exhale as we drank in the change in scenery and the break in the monotony of our lockdown day to day.

We arrived at our Airbnb, hauled in our luggage and groceries, and got ready to hit the sand.

A handful of hours later, one of our kids began complaining of some symptoms.

Really? Now? This was supposed to be a vacation of sorts.

Overnight, she grew more uncomfortable. By morning, it was time to think through what to do. We were in a town in which we knew no physicians, and we were also trying to salvage family time on the beach, not in a waiting room.

Enter telemedicine.

With a quick online process and phone call, within a short amount of time we were able to have an appointment with an online physician. She was thorough and kind. She was able to quickly determine what was going on with our child. She found the closest pharmacy to where we were staying and called in a prescription, along with giving us information on what we could expect and what to do if our child’s symptoms weren’t relieved or or if the symptoms accelerated.

By early lunchtime, we were back out on the beach.

Am I a fan of telemedicine? Um, yeah. That would be a definitive yes. Amen. Absolutely.

And now, it has definitely become my first stop when needing non-emergency medical care, whether we’re out of town or not.

Telemedicine is medical service access offered through phone and online video portals to doctors and other health professionals who can provide non-emergency medical treatment. Telemedicine is a safe, secure, private and convenient means of delivering the care patients need. The use of telemedicine has seen a huge rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, as health professionals have worked to avoid overcrowded waiting rooms and prolonged appointment gaps. While telemedicine was already gaining steam and validation prior to the pandemic, it’s value has been highlighted over the past year. Patients love the convenience, and a majority of physicians say that it improves how quickly they can see their patients and also report that telemedicine has improved their patients’ health.1

When it comes to telemedicine, there are few things to keep in mind. Telemedicine should never replace a true medical emergency. It’s best used for things like fever, colds, stomach ailments, allergies, ear problems, pink eye, rashes, sore throat, UTI, and more. It’s not for broken bones, serious burns, and medical issues that would require an in-person medical exam and treatment approach.

Telemedicine, just like remote work-from-home options, seems to be one of the beneficial pandemic legacies that will stay with us moving forward. And I for one am a fan. Altrua HealthShare offers telemedicine through many of its membership options. If you haven’t yet tried the convenience and quick turn-around of a telemedicine visit, give it a try. Your calendar, patience, and maybe just your vacation plans, will thank you!

Julie Lyles Carr is a best-selling author, podcaster, and entrepreneur living in Austin, Texas, with her husband Mike Carr. They have eight kids, two unfriendly cats, and an antique dachshund.