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3 Ways To Prepare for a Virtual Doctor Appointment

September 10, 2021

When life gets busy, it can be difficult to squeeze in a doctor visit. Telehealth appointments save time, especially if you take steps to prepare before you meet with your physician virtually.

Though different from an in-person appointment, virtual visits can be just as effective and helpful when done right. Telehealth appointments have several benefits — they reduce exposure to illness, require no travel time and can be done from the comfort of your home.

Preparing for Your Telehealth Appointment

Talking with your doctor on the phone or via video can take some getting used to. If you have an upcoming virtual visit, there are things you can do to prepare for the appointment and get the most out of your time with the doctor.

Set up your technology. Make sure your computer, tablet or smartphone is connected to the internet and fully charged. In some cases, you may be required to download a software program or app used by your doctor to access your appointment. Close any browsers or other apps that you won’t need to use during the appointment to ensure your device runs smoothly. You might also want to do a test call with a family member or friend to ensure your technology is working as it should. 

Find a private spot. Privacy and minimal interruptions are key for a good visit. Use headphones for better sound and privacy during your conversation. Find a spot that’s well-lit so your doctor can see you, especially if they need to view affected body parts. Keep your camera at eye level so you can have a conversation with the doctor as you would in person. 

Be prepared with questions. Before your appointment, make a list of the questions you have for the doctor along with any issues you want to talk about. It’s easy to forget or get sidetracked during a virtual visit, so have your questions ready beforehand and write down any symptoms you’re experiencing. If you are seeing a new doctor, information about your medical history should be within reach. This includes health conditions you’ve been diagnosed with and any medications you are taking.

What To Expect from a Telehealth Visit

The structure of telehealth visits is similar to in-person visits at the doctor’s office. There may be a virtual “waiting room” before the doctor joins the call/video. Your telehealth appointment will include many of the same elements as an in-office visit, including: 

●       Introductions. Your doctor will introduce themselves and verify your identity.

●       Medical history. The doctor will review your medical history and discuss any prescriptions you are taking.

●       Discussion. This is your opportunity to share your symptoms/medical issues with the doctor. Be as clear and honest as you can be. Your doctor may have follow-up questions that you can answer during the appointment. Ask questions if you’re unsure about anything discussed or are unclear on your doctor’s recommendations.

●       Prescriptions. Prescription refills and/or new prescriptions may be suggested by your doctor during the virtual visit. The doctor’s office should ask for your preferred pharmacy if they don’t already have that information on file.

●       Scheduling a follow-up visit. Sometimes this is another telehealth appointment, but in many cases, you may be required to schedule an in-person follow-up visit. If your doctor has recommended lab work or diagnostic tests, you will be required to attend in person.  

Be sure to take notes of what the doctor says throughout the call, particularly around next steps, their recommendations, and any changes in prescriptions that may be required. 

After the visit, review your notes and follow up by scheduling appointments, diagnostic tests and/or lab work. Contact your doctor’s office if you have any remaining questions. 

Regardless of the type of telehealth appointment you have, whether via phone or video call, all information you share during your appointment falls under HIPAA laws and will be kept confidential.

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