To be physically disabled in a world that doesn’t always cater to you can be a frustrating experience. There are countless ways you can face discrimination on a daily basis, from lack of access to buildings to inadequate public transport, and these problems are only exacerbated if you live in an isolated area. The good news is that access to health care doesn’t need to be dependent on your ability to get to a doctor’s clinic, thanks to advances in telemedicine.

What is telemedicine? Put simply, it is the combination of telecommunications technology with diagnostic or health care advice. It has been used for a long time, mostly in emergency situations such as warzones or natural disasters when medics cannot access patients and have to make do with radio advice. However, thanks to the explosion in popularity of smartphones, telemedicine is now a mainstream means by which patients of all kinds are accessing medical advice.

Dr Handicap - man in wheelchair

Telemedicine can make it much easier for people with physical disabilities to access health care and medical advice.

Using telemedicine with a physical disability will depend on your ability to use a smartphone, but there’s no reason not to get assistance from a family member, friend, or carer who you trust to be present for your health care conversations. Once you’re comfortable in starting your consultation, you simply log on and get started. You sign up to the website of your choice and either wait in a virtual waiting room or get connected immediately to a doctor. They will speak to you via the camera on your phone and ask questions to get a sense of your medical history. You will get the opportunity to discuss your impairments with your doctor openly and they will be able to get a sense of how your disability impacts your life. If you need further testing, they will be able to refer you to a specialist, but can remain your primary care physician.

Telemedical doctors are very integrated with secondary services, which means that it’s a lot easier for patients, both disabled and able-bodied, to link in with specialists. They will send referral letters directly to the specialist doctors, meaning you don’t have to inconvenience yourself with having to schedule your own appointments. They will also link in with pharmacies to send your prescriptions straight to them so you don’t have to wait for your medications to be prepared. They’ll be ready and waiting for you as soon as you get to the pharmacy.

Another perk of telemedicine is that it tends to be a lot more affordable than traditional health care. If you’re living with a disability, you may have to spend a lot of money to make your life happy and comfortable, and you’re better off keeping that money for your self-care instead of unnecessarily spending it on doctors who are not acting in your best interests or convenience. Imagine a world where you can splurge on a fancy dinner instead of a doctor’s appointment!

Dr Handicap - using smartphone

If you have a smartphone, medical professionals are now literally at your fingertips through the advent of telemedicine.

If you’re someone who has a physical disability, it will be inevitable that you will have to see doctors in person from time to time, but telemedicine gives you the flexibility to be able to see someone in more convenient circumstances. If you’re using telemedicine as well as other specialists, they will be able to be kept in the loop with one another thanks to the ways telemedical providers store their records. This also means that you’ll be able to access the records however and whenever you want to, instead of having to jump through hoops, as is often the case at a traditional primary care physician’s office.

If you are living in a remote area or you have trouble with your mobility, it can be difficult to get to your doctor’s office, especially if your physical disability is causing you additional issues. Traditional primary care physicians often have opening hours that coincide with office hours, so it’s also very difficult for people who work full-time to make their way to a doctor’s office. Telemedicine allows you to see a doctor from the comfort of your own home, meaning that you don’t have to take time off work or push your body further than it needs to go for the sake of seeing a doctor in person.

If you don’t allow your disability to hold you back in other areas of your life, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use telemedicine to receive the best health care possible while avoiding the inconvenience of having to see a doctor in person. Telemedicine is an excellent way to empower yourself and to take back control instead of making yourself fit into a mold that just isn’t convenient for you.