The COVID-19 pandemic upended lives in many ways, and the world of medicine has been impacted in a big way. With infection control procedures in place and social distancing and mask wearing the norm, many patients and providers found themselves rethinking the traditional medical appointment.
In the wake of all the disruption, many medical facilities turned to telemedicine, allowing doctors to connect with their patients in the comfort and safety of their own homes. When properly used, these virtual visits can be just as effective as the face-to-face interactions patients were used to in the pre-pandemic world.
Even so, proper preparation can be key to these virtual medical appointments. Whether this is your first telemedicine appointment or your hundredth, a little planning and preparation can go a long way. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next virtual doctor visit.
- Download and test any apps ahead of time. Some medical offices will simply send a link to the patient’s smartphone or computer, but others require a dedicated mobile app. If your virtual visit will involve the use of such an app, make sure you download and test it ahead of time.
- Invest in a stand or holder for your smartphone. If you plan to use your smartphone for telehealth visits, a stand or other holder will really come in handy. These smartphone holders are inexpensive and easy to use, and they can make it easier to see your doctor face to face.
- Make a list of questions you want to ask. It is easy to get sidetracked when talking to your doctor, so make a list of the topics you want to cover before the virtual visit begins. Keep this list close at hand so you can interrupt the flow of conversation if necessary.
- Keep a notepad by your side and take notes as needed. Your doctor should provide you with a post-visit report, but it may not cover everything you and your provider talked about. Supplementing that eventual report with your own handwritten notes is very important.
- Have a list of your prescription medications handy. Your doctor will want to go over your current medications, so prepare a list ahead of time. You will also want to include any over-the-counter medications you take on a regular basis, as well as any vitamins and dietary supplements you take.
- If you have any home diagnostic equipment, get it out before the visit begins. Providing things like a current blood pressure reading and oxygen saturation level can be very useful for your doctor, so get out your medical equipment if you have it. If you do not have any specialized medical equipment in your home, pull out your scale and record your current weight.
- Have your insurance information available, even if your doctor already has it. Even if your medical provider already has your insurance information, it never hurts to have your card handy.
- Follow up if you have any questions. You may not have any questions now, but what happens if you need further information later? Ask how to contact your doctor if you think of any questions after the visit has ended.
Many medical experts expect telemedicine to remain a popular option even after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. The cost savings and convenience are hard to ignore, and that could make virtual visits the rule rather than the exception going forward. Given that very real possibility, it is more important than ever to get the most out of every visit, whether that visit takes place in your doctor’s office or at your kitchen table. The tips listed above can help you get the most out of every visit, so you can get the care you need even from a distance.