One year ago, having a doctor’s appointment meant making your way to a health center and seeing a physician face to face. After taking a history, discussing concerns, and possibly having a physical exam, you’d find yourself on your way back home or continue on with your day. Today, it usually means finding a quiet place for your appointment, turning on your camera and microphone, before starting a virtual appointment with a doctor who could be hundreds of miles away. Practicing medicine virtually, also known as telemedicine, has grown rapidly due to social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it may feel unconventional to see a doctor through the computer, telemedicine has offered safety and opportunity in the medical field.
The first and perhaps most obvious benefit of telemedicine is it’s ability to decrease risk of COVID-19 transmission by eliminating the need to visit a doctor’s office. It avoids close-contact interactions and helps you stay away from hotspots where you could get sick. Telemedicine visits have also made treatment and patient care more accessible. Those who lived far or were restricted by their work may now have greater opportunity to have healthcare visits. Despite these benefits, telemedicine can still be tricky. Here is a guide for people who want to get the most out of their telemedicine visits.
Become Familiar with Your Technology
If you have a computer, make sure you know how to check your internet connection, turn on your computer’s camera or microphone, and navigate your healthcare provider’s website. Typically, once your appointment is set, your provider will send you detailed information about how to access the online platform upon which you will have your tele-health visit. Make sure to read this information well in advance of your appointment, as it may require you to download a new application to your device or access a website you’re are unfamiliar with. It will usually enclose a link or website to access, whether you need to type in a code to ensure your privacy, and other important details. Being comfortable using your setup will help you focus more on your appointment rather than any issues you may run into using an online platform. If you have someone in your life that is tech savvy, use them as a resource! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Write Down Your Questions
Using a computer and having to navigate through a new online platform may detract from your ability to focus on the topic of your visit. Before getting online to start your appointment, write down any important notes so that you can reference them if need be. This would also be a great time to make sure you have any insurance or healthcare files on hand if they’re required during your visit.
Vocalize Your Needs
While telemedicine has provided a safe environment for patients to receive care, there are also barriers to treatment when a provider cannot observe or examine their patient. If your appointment does not require your doctor to see you in person, perfect! Doctors have a lot of practice successfully treating patients through video. However, if you feel your needs will not be met without a physical exam or seeing your doctor in person, advocate for yourself and your medical needs. You can safely visit your doctor with proper protective equipment if an in-person appointment is required.
Schedule a Follow Up
Make sure to schedule a follow up appointment with your doctor. You can typically call an administrator and make sure you are seen for another visit. It is easy to put off your healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, but just because the world is on hold does not mean your healthcare should be! Make sure you’re scheduling and attending your regular appointments as well as getting seen for new concerns or issues.
Use these tips to help you get the most out of your telemedicine visit and avoid any issues that may arise.