Seven Tips For Your First Virtual Appointment (Part 2)

Editor's note: This is part 2 of a two-part series. Part 1 is titled 'Seven Tips for Your First Virtual Appointment (Part 1)'.

Telemedicine was once thought to be something of the future. Is now present in many of our lives, and likely won't be going away anytime soon. Recent research found nearly 71% of patients polled said in early 2020 that they had considered telemedicine as an option, while half of those polled had already had a virtual appointment. The adoption of telemedicine by patients at the start of 2020 was up 33% over 2019.1 This information alone shows that telemedicine is something all patients are going to have to be prepared for.

Two common questions regarding telemedicine

There are several common questions regarding telemedicine or virtual appointments. Two of those are what kinds of appointments can be done virtually as well as what can we as patients do to prepare for a virtual doctor's appointment? In all honesty, the things we need to do to be prepared for a virtual visit is not that different from preparing for an in-person visit. Outside of making sure everything is working technologically, many steps that are discussed could be done to prepare for an in-person appointment. But let's jump right in.

What kinds of appointments can be done virtually?

The following appointments can all be done virtually:

Follow up appointments - Done mostly by either urgent or primary care following a previous visit or checking to see if the patient needs more extensive care.

Counseling and Education - Nice for but not limited to those who are pregnant, who are diabetic, or on chronic anticoagulation.

Medication Management - For but not limited to those with chronic health conditions that need frequent check-ins and that require medication to treat, like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure, pain, etc.

Mental Health Services - Most treatments for those with mental health issues are talk-based. Therefore they are easily done remotely.

Important preparation tips

Here are seven more tips for visitation preparation:

Check with your insurance

As with any doctor's visit or procedure, if possible, you should verify your insurance company's coverage of telemedicine appointments. Like with anything else in the healthcare arena, this will vary depending on where you live as well as what kind of insurance you have. It is important to check beforehand so you don’t get stuck with a bill later.

Get dressed

While it may seem silly to remind people that they should get dressed, it isn’t. We’ve all seen how people will dress when they leave the house, so it isn’t so crazy to think what they wear inside would be any better. That being said, just take a quick moment and put on something that would be appropriate if you were going into the office.

Explore the portal beforehand

Take time to explore the patient portal before your appointment time. If you have never had a virtual appointment you should take time in the hours/days before your appointment to explore the portal. Many times the provider's office will send instructions on how to get into the appointment. But even if that is the case it would still be a good idea to take a little time to make sure that you are able to find everything easily. You don’t want to make the provider wait just because you can’t figure out the portal.

Fill out paperwork

Fill out any pre-appointment paperwork. Whether you are going into your provider's office or seeing them virtually there is often paperwork to be filled out prior to the appointment. So during that time mentioned above when you are exploring the portal, also be sure to take the time to fill out any information they may need prior to the appointment. Things you might need to input are insurance information, payment of copay, or health information such as why you need to be seen.

Provide needed information

Provide your healthcare provider with all the information they need. Just like if you are going into the office, you need to provide the doctor with all the information they need to address the problem. For instance, if you are being seen to assess how the newly prescribed blood pressure pill is working, you would want to make sure that the provider has a list of recent blood pressures to review BEFORE the appointment. This will speed up the process and allow the provider to have potential treatment options in mind before you even see them.

Be read to take notes

Be prepared to take notes if needed. Just in case something comes up that you want to remember for later, it is important that you have something to write with and on should you want to take notes. The providers already have enough to do without having to wait for us to find a working pen.

Bring a friend

Consider having someone else with you. If you are seeing a new doctor or getting test results back you might want to consider having someone with you during your virtual appointment. In those situations specifically, it is hard to remember everything you heard or the things you wanted to ask. It may be a good idea to have someone with you. Although, it would be fine to have someone else with you at all appointments, not just those listed above. If you live alone, are social distancing, or there is no one home at the time of your appointment, you could have a friend or family join you for the call via facetime.

I hope these tips were helpful to you. Do you have any more to share? Post them in the comments below!

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