Preparing for a Telemedicine Visit
May 21, 2020 | By Sarah Dailey |
Telemedicine or telehealth visits use audio and video to connect you to your healthcare provider from your location or home. These are sometimes called “virtual visits”. You will be able to see, hear, and talk to your provider, just like you do in the office. Currently, these visits can be done between you at home and your provider in their office. The telehealth appointment is private, using secure software to make the connection. You can also have a family member or friend accompany you during the visit. You will be billed for the visit the same as if you were seeing your health care provider in person.
How to Prepare for a Virtual Visit
1-2 days before your telemedicine appointment
- Decide which device you will use for the visit. Virtual visits work best when your doctor can clearly see you. There are many options for the visit:
- Desktop computer with external webcam and microphone
- Laptop with webcam (integrated or external) and microphone
- Tablet with camera (iPad or Android tablet)
- Phone with camera (iPhone, Android phone, Windows phone)
- Plan where you will be during the visit. Make sure the space is private, so you can discuss personal medical information. You should do the visit in a quiet, well-lit room. You can sit near a window for natural light or neara lamp. But don’t sit in front of the window or lamp, or you will appear like a shadow.
- You can also have a family member or friend added to the visit, but they will need to be invited to the visit. Let your provider know the phone number or email of anyone you want to have in the visit.
- If you need a translator for the visit, let your provider know and use the global common name for your language.
- Find a steady place to put your laptop, tablet, or phone. You should not hold your tablet or phone during the visit, as this can cause a very wobbly video. If you use a webcam, place it at eye level. You can use books or boxes to prop up your phone or tablet. Your doctor will need to do an exam, so you may need to move your chair or the camera during the visit.
- One view of your face, during the history part of the visit
- One view of your whole body, during the exam part of the visit
- If possible, use a wired internet connection (with a cable), or make sure your phone is connected to your location’s or home’s wi-fi.
- You will receive instructions from your doctor’s office on using the telemedicine software. If possible, do a test call with a friend or family member to make sure everything is working.
- If possible, arrange for someone to be with you for the visit. This person can help adjust the camera, troubleshoot any technical problems, and help your doctor during parts of the exam.
- If you have balance problems or fall frequently, you should have someone with you during the visit to make sure you are safe.
- Complete any forms sent to you by your provider and send any notes such as your seizure calendar to your provider. If possible, send these back to the provider before the visit using a patient portal, email, or fax.
1-2 hours before your telemedicine appointment
Set-up and check your computer or phone you plan to use.
- Make sure your space is quiet.
- Put your pets in another room.
- Have someone watch your children, preferably in another room.
- Turn off the TV, radio, or any other things that may make noise.
- Make sure your computer or device is ready.
- Check that your laptop, tablet, or phone is either fully charged or plugged in.
- Check your audio: Make sure your volume is on (sound not muted). Test your microphone.
- Test your video to make sure that the lighting is good – turn on overhead lights, put a lamp near your phone,or sit near (but not in front of) a window or lamp.
- If you are using a computer with a webcam, try to have the webcam at the same level as your eyes.
- If you are using a smartphone or tablet, you will need a steady surface to prop up your phone.
If you are using wi-fi, turn off other devices to prevent slow and weak signals.
Close any other programs that are running on your computer, tablet, or phone.
- Have your doctor’s office number handy in case you have technical problems and need to call.
- Dress appropriately. Your doctor may need to do an exam, so if possible, wear a short-sleeved shirt or T-shirt,shorts, and socks but not shoes.
- Wear your glasses and hearing aid, if you need them.
- Write down anything you’d like to ask or discuss with the doctor. Have a list of your current medications.
- Try to have these things available: paper and pen to take notes and do parts of the exam; a flashlight or another phone with a flashlight app.
- If you can, check your “vital signs” before the visit.
- Temperature, using a thermometer.
- Blood pressure, if you have a home monitoring blood pressure device.
- Weight, if you have a scale at home.
- Join the telemedicine visit at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time, so any problems can be fixed.
During the visit.
- Your provider will introduce themselves and anyone else on the video visit. You should do the same.
- Let your provider know if you can’t hear or see them well.
- At the end of the visit, make sure you know next steps:
- Any needed prescriptions
- Any testing to be scheduled
- Follow up appointment
- Best way to contact your provider
- Give your provider feedback about how the visit went. Remember that this visit type is new to everyone.
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