Five Tips to Optimize Your Telehealth Visit

Tuesday June 16, 2020

Telemedicine isn’t new, but it’s been utilized more than ever during this stressful time of quarantine and self-isolation. While virtual visits aren’t the answer to every medical problem, you might be surprised to learn that many conditions can be treated effectively from the comfort of your own couch. Since we’ve been staying at home to flatten the curve, our lives — work, school, even happy hours — have gone virtual. It’s no surprise, then, that virtual medical appointments have seen a huge spike in popularity.

Especially if you are new to telehealth, here are some tips to make the most of your “visit”:

  1. Don’t let technology derail the visit:Make sure you have all the right software and/or hardware before the visit. Ask a relative or friend for help setting up your computer, tablet or mobile phone if you don’t feel up for the task. Test technology ahead of time if possible and download/install any updates so you don’t lose precious face time with your caregiver. Turn off other programs that might disrupt the visit with notifications. Also make sure that your devices are charged, volume is at an appropriate level and the microphone picks up your voice clearly.
  2. Plan for your appointment like you would an in-person visit:Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, make a list of questions you want answered and have your medical history readily available if this is a new caregiver or medical team.
  3. Set the scene:Find a quiet place to talk that will allow you a measure of privacy and a secure Internet connection. Although a wired Internet connection is preferred, if the most private place in the house is a closet or pantry, make sure your Wi-Fi connection reaches that far and will support a video conference. The area should be well-lit and allow you to have the camera at eye level, so you can have a direct conversation with your care provider as if you were in the same room.
  4. Take notes:Remember to write down any directions or treatment plans the doctor shares. Since you won’t be handed a physical prescription at the end of the visit, with directions on how to take any medication or with the next steps to follow in your treatment journey, you’ll need to have a pen and paper handy, or have access to your electronic medical chart, if available. Remember to make sure you have a pharmacy on file with the office; they will know where to send the electronic prescription and you will know where to go to pick up your medications.
  5. Give feedback after your visit:Be sure to ask about “next steps”.  Also, let the team know what went right, what could be improved and if there are any ways the team can support your future telehealth visits.

Check out this post from a healthcare provider’s viewpoint:

Doctors discover telehealth’s silver lining in the Covid-19 crisis