Seven Tips For Your First Virtual Appointment (Part 1)

Last year, if someone had said that in-person doctors' appointments would be a thing of the past, I probably would have thought they were a little out of touch. Then came 2020 and of the crazy things we have seen this year also came telemedicine - seeing most of your providers virtually. I always assumed the change to virtual medicine would happen eventually. But I never thought it would happen all at once, or so quickly.

Seven tips for success

For many of us who are in the HIGH-RISK category regarding COVID, or even the upcoming flu season, it may be too dangerous to go into the office. While virtual (or telemedicine) is not what we are used to, it is a great option for those who can not safely go into a physical doctor's office. Like anything new, virtual medicine is not without issue. So we need to do all that we can on our end to make sure the appointments are a success. With that in mind, here are seven tips for a successful virtual appointmentFind a quiet spaceFind a QUIET space with minimal interruptions or distractions. Just like if you were going to the office, the provider needs to be able to focus on JUST YOU, not than your kids and dog or the loud TV in the background. It feels like this should go without saying, but telemedicine appointments should be in your home or car. Not at the coffee shop or in the middle of your office.Test your equipmentTest your equipment before you get on the portal for your appointment. You should make sure that your volume is turned up and the audio is clear. Ensure that your camera and microphone are working properly as well. Providers don’t have time for you to spend half of the appointment trying to get your equipment figured out.Camera at eye levelMake sure your camera is set up at eye level. This is not so much a requirement as it is just good etiquette. By having your camera set at eye level, it enables you and the provider to be able to maintain eye contact and for them to see only the parts of you that they ask for/need to see.Charge upPlug in your device if at all possible. This seems like an obvious one but not something everyone would think of. The last thing you want to happen is for your device to die mid-appointment.Declutter your deviceClose any or all unnecessary windows/programs. Video streaming of any kind, including a telemedicine stream, can use a large bandwidth. By closing all open tabs or programs, it should allow your device to stream the live stream without getting bogged down and inadvertently freezing or closing altogether.Be preparedIt doesn’t matter whether you are seeing your doctor in their clinic or virtually - you should always be prepared. So take time BEFORE your appointment to make a list of any and all topics you would like to discuss as well as any questions you may have. This will allow you to remember things that are important for you, that you might otherwise forget.Stay engagedEven though you are seeing your provider in a different setting, that doesn’t mean that you should not make sure you are engaged throughout the whole appointment. Going back to number one, the provider deserves the attention just as if you were sitting in their office. Even if it is uncomfortable, do your best to make eye contact, nod your head as you listen, and just be an active listener.Here to stayWhile not every appointment can be done virtually. It is a great option for those who can’t safely make it into the provider's office. That being said I feel like virtual (or telemedicine) medicine is here to stay. We all need to do our part to make sure our virtual appointments are a success.

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