Remote conferencing and cloud technology have revolutionized the healthcare industry. In light of the global pandemic, many practitioners are adopting telehealth solutions to ensure continuous care while protecting the health and safety of their patients and themselves.
While there are several benefits to telehealth, there is a learning curve for patients transitioning to this format. Here are some practical tips to help you get the most out of your telehealth appointments.
Find the Right Doctor
Often the most challenging aspect of shifting to telehealth is finding a doctor who not only offers the service but has the structure in place for optimal care. If your existing practitioner isn’t meeting your needs, it’s time to find an online doctor who can.
When choosing an online doctor, consider whether you need a GP or specialist. Then, do some research regarding your prospective physician’s qualifications, experience, and accolades. Depending on your location, you may also need to determine whether the practice falls under your insurance coverage.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to ask questions about the appointment and billing structure before you book an appointment. Request information about average wait times and operating hours as well.
Clarify Your Pre-Work
Before your appointment, ask what’s expected of you in terms of pre-work. Your doctor might require your basic vital signs or measurements pertaining to your existing conditions (i.e., a blood pressure reading).
For specialty appointments, the doctor might want to see photos of the affected area. This could mean getting a clear, well-lit shot of your sore, swollen throat or a few images of the questionable mole on your back.
Finally, you should always have a list of your medication and dosage information ready for your appointment.
In other words, it might take time and assistance to complete the pre-work for your appointment. Some of these requirements will be common sense, but it’s always helpful to ask for clarification to get the most out of your time.
Write a Detailed List
Take some time before your appointment to consider what issues you’re bringing forward. Write down your symptoms with as many details as possible and any questions you may have. Keep a pen and paper handy to write down the answers as you go through the appointment.
Check Your Tech
Technology has a way of failing at the most inopportune times. Give yourself time before your appointment to check your technology. Make a video call, ensure your microphone and camera are working effectively, and determine where you need to be for the best internet bandwidth.
Some practitioners use a special platform or program to conduct their telehealth appointments. If your practitioner falls into that category, test their system on your computer before the day of the appointment. Some programs require a plug-in or app download to work, and you don’t want to discover this when you try to log on for your session.
If you’re tucking into a private room, be sure to check the lighting before you log on as well. Having clear, crisp lighting is integral for many appointments, as your physician may want to do a visual assessment.
Don’t hesitate to ask someone to be with you for your first virtual appointment, either conferenced in or by your side. It’s natural to experience a learning curve with technology, especially if it isn’t a natural part of your daily existence.
Find a Private Space
The benefit of telehealth is that you can access a medical professional from anywhere. For seniors with mobility issues or single parents with multiple children, this means getting medical assistance while safe at home. However, there are pitfalls to this approach as well.
It’s essential that you feel safe and comfortable providing personal information during your appointment. If you’re at work, consider going to your car or stepping outside for your session, so you don’t feel limited by your surroundings. Having a quiet, private space also ensures clear communication, so nothing is missed or overlooked.
Ask for Records and Receipts
Some online medical platforms provide computerized records, transcripts, and receipts after your appointment. Unfortunately, not all practices have those options.
Don’t hesitate to request a record and receipt following your appointment. This doesn’t have to be a full medical record, just a summary of the discussion and recommendations. If you’re working with specialists from outside your local area, having this information handy helps navigate future appointments.
Understand Follow-Ups and Next Steps
Unfortunately, telehealth doesn’t replace in-person appointments entirely; physicians must conduct some services in a medical office. When a follow-up appointment or in-person consultation is necessary, ask questions and determine how that process will work.
Telemedicine is helping people around the world get the medical attention they need while staying safe at home. This experience will become second nature with careful preparation and practice, and wasting time in waiting rooms will become a distant memory.