Tele-what? You know all those services that have always been in-person – but then weren’t for a while due to the Coronavirus and sheltering-in-place? Things like going to the dentist, getting your haircut, getting your car fixed, going to a lawyer? Well, you won’t believe how many of these, and more, are now available online. Jennifer Jolly, tech & life columnist explains how you can access these services:
Let’s start with Telemedicine apps. Dozens of sites and apps now connect people to doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, specialists, and therapists via text, phone, or by video chat. Many of those services have been around for more than a decade, but they’ve only gone mainstream in the past few months. Apps such as Doctor on Demand, HealthTap, Teladoc, Amwell, and others that provide virtual physician visits through an online platform or patient portal have experienced a 400% to 800% uptick in traffic since the pandemic began. Most of these services take insurance and provide same-day visits with a medical professional.
A site called JustAnswer offers a whole host of virtual help for just about everything! It has 12,000 + experts in more than 700 different categories including auto and boat mechanics, DIY appliance repair, lawyers, accounts, veterinarians, and even antique appraisers.
The way it works is simple; log in, type your question and within a few minutes you’re chatting or talking with a highly-vetted expert. It costs about $5 dollars to join and $40/month to ask unlimited questions.
Top trending questions on the site right now include a massive uptick around DIY projects, such as, “how to fix my boat up because summer’s here,” or “I need help fixing my broken washing machine or dishwasher.” Another big category right now is antique appraisals too.
I just finished a story around people spending more time at home and cleaning out old closets, garages, and storage spaces, where they’ve found old coins, dolls, books, piano’s, costume jewelry, and even paintings. They snap a quick pic or two of them and ask an appraisal expert at JustAnswer what they might be worth. Guess what? Within the last few weeks a man in Wisconsin found out an old painting handed down from his father that’s been in his closet for more than a decade. Turns out, it could be a lost master painting potentially worth $3 million dollars! He almost threw it away!
The site moderator said they’re fielding around 4,000 appraisal questions each week. In addition to that incredible painting, one rare book recently appraised at $45,000, and even an old five-dollar bill that Elvis Presley signed is worth $3,000. All of the people who inquired about their goods were shocked at the potential value.
Virtual babysitting is something I never expected to see available online. There’s a site called sittercity.com that connects you with a trained, vetted sitter. Of course, a virtual sitter is not the same thing as in-person babysitting. They can engage children digitally for a short period of time, but it’s not a replacement for physical care.
Virtual babysitters can’t change a baby’s diapers, tuck a preschooler into bed or chase an unruly toddler around the house. But screen-based caregivers can entertain kids and give parents short breaks. SitterCity says they’ve had an influx of parents asking for help because both mom and dad are trying to get work done from home or to play games or read stories to kids in the evenings while parents eat dinner together or have a drink in the backyard.
Trackers Earth, an Oregon-based outdoor-adventure camp company, was among the first to take its after-school and summer classes online shortly after shelter-in-place orders left many parents – and kids – desperate for options. It named the virtual options Trackers Spark and I’ve actually taken a few of them. These are live, small-group interactive webinars — usually a ratio of one teacher or guide for a maximum of twelve students. The courses are tailored to kids ages four to 14, and they offer just about every area of interest you could think of, from outdoor safety and survival to arts and crafts, even role-playing and lighthearted “secret agent” training. Most online camps are 30 minutes to an hour in length and run $5 to $25 for a single class, with discounts if parents buy them as a series.
The website You Probably Need a Haircut lets people book a video call with a professional barber for $18. To do this you need the right tools — the site tells you to find or buy a decent pair of haircutting scissors or razor for men’s, women’s or kid’s haircut, then you book an appointment online. When it’s your appointment time, you jump on a video call with a stylist who coaches you, or your friend or family member, through giving you a haircut.
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