With existing health protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of technology, your typical doctor’s appointment may look a bit different. Before, going to the doctor’s office meant seeing your physician face-to-face and physically entering a health center or hospital building. From waiting in the lobby to be called in by your doctor to taking a seat on the exam table, these familiar feelings may no longer be part of your routine medical visit. Nowadays, doctor’s appointments can take place at home and on a cell phone, tablet, or computer via a telemedicine appointment.
Telemedicine is a relatively new way to deliver healthcare, which comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. Individuals can now speak with their doctor through video chat or phone call in the comfort of their own home. With the ease of opening a computer or picking up the phone to speak to a healthcare professional, those who live far away from a health center or are unable to take time off work may find these appointments easier to attend. On the contrary, other people may feel that this type of visit is unusual since it is not taking place in-person or at a doctor’s office. Due to the current pandemic, attending doctor visits online is becoming the norm as it helps minimize transmission of and exposure to COVID-19. These visits also adhere to social distancing guidelines which helps keep individuals and families safe.
Here are some helpful tips and advice to help you or your loved one prepare for a telemedicine visit.
1. Make Sure Your Cell Phone, Tablet, or Computer Is Connected
Most tele-health appointments can be done via video call on a computer, cell phone, or tablet. Before your appointment, it is important that you are familiar with your technology of choice. Your healthcare provider will send you details on how to connect to the online platform - either by downloading an application onto your device or through a secure meeting link that will redirect you to the meeting portal. The video conference platform or website may require you to submit a code for extra security, which should be provided in the instructions given to you. Remember, if you have any questions or concerns before your appointment, do not be afraid to ask for help! Some additional things you should be familiar with before your appointment include:
How to Check Internet Connection
- Make sure the device is connected to the correct WiFi network
How to Turn on Your Device’s Camera and Microphone
- Most tele-health visits will either be hosted on an online video platform such as Zoom or on your healthcare provider’s website
- Depending on which video platform, there will be different instructions on how to enable camera access and microphone
- Often times, you will see the following icons:
- Click ‘Start Video’ to enable your camera
- Click ‘Join Audio’ to enable your microphone
- Click ‘Unmute’ to enable your microphone if muted
- Click 'Stop Video' to disable your camera
2. Be Prepared with Questions For Your Doctor
A telemedicine appointment can feel a bit strange and sometimes frustrating, if a technical interruption occurs. Therefore, it is important to think about and write down any questions you may have for your doctor before your visit. Having a list of notes to reference to can be helpful and can better address your concerns.
Tip: Make sure to have your medical records, intake forms, and insurance cards ready in front of you before your appointment. Keep everything organized and have your list of questions for your doctor on top.
3. Be Vocal About Your Needs and Priorities
With telemedicine being remote, it does not allow for doctors to physically observe and examine their patient. For appointments that do not require an in-person visit, this works perfectly fine. However, it may be difficult for a physician to diagnose or treat issues that require physical examination and/or medical tests. If you feel that your medical needs require more than a telemedicine appointment, be vocal and advocate for what you need. Your health is a top priority! Talk to your doctor and ask to set up an in-person appointment. Remember to follow social distancing guidelines, wear a mask at all times, and frequently wash your hands.
4. Schedule a Follow Up Appointment
It is important to schedule a follow up appointment with your doctor. The ease of telemedicine makes it easy to forget or be distracted by something on your computer, phone, or tablet, especially after your tele-health visit has ended. You can easily set a reminder on your device to schedule a follow up visit or call your healthcare provider to schedule one for you.
We hope these tips help you better understand what to expect for your next tele-health appointment. Stay safe & take care!