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.
I’ve been covering Telemedicine apps that connect people to doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and therapists over via text, phone, or by video chat for more than a decade now – but they’ve only gone mainstream in the past few months. Lately, we’re seeing a 500%-to-800% uptick in traffic across most telehealth sites since the pandemic began. People still need to see professionals, whether it’s for an annual check-up, medication management, or even home repair and tech troubleshooting, but doing things the old way is out of the question.
Digital DIY Helpers
A site called JustAnswer offers a whole host of virtual help for just about everything. It hosts over 12,000 experts in more than 700 different categories including auto and boat mechanics, DIY appliance repair, lawyers, accounts, veterinarians, and even antique appraisers. If there’s a profession out there, chances are there’s someone on JustAnswer who does it.
Here’s how it works: You 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. What’s really interesting here is that it helps a lot of people save a ton of money. Asking these questions in person is often more than $100 an hour, but getting these same answers on JustAnswer has already saved people millions of dollars collectively, not to mention time and headaches.
Top trending questions on the site right now include a massive uptick around DIY projects, like how to fix my boat up because summer’s here, or help me with repairing home appliances.
Babysitting Gone Virtual
Virtual babysitting is something I never expected to see, but here we are. There’s a site called sittercity.com where you can have a trained, vetted sitter engage with your kids, but note: The key word here is “engage.” A virtual sitter is not the same thing as in-person babysitting. They can engage children digitally for a short period of time, but they’re not a substitute for a parent. They can help kids with schoolwork or play an interactive game, like charades, and guide them through other activities, 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.
Online Summer Camp
Trackers Earth, an Oregon-based outdoor adventure camping 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, with an average ratio of one teacher or guide for a maximum of eight students.
The courses are tailored to kids ages 4 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.
We Could All Use A Haircut…
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 a razor for you men’s, women’s or kid’s haircut. Then, you book an appointment online, and when it’s time, you video chat with a stylist who coaches you or a friend or family member through giving you a haircut. Finally, no more looking like a pandemic zombie!