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7 tips to get the best out of your online doctor appointments

written by Vidya Sury February 19, 2021
How to make the most of your online doctor appointments

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Online doctor appointments are becoming more popular amid physical distancing measures;  what conditions are suitable for virtual visits and how to prepare for them?

Virtual visits allow doctors to address patients’ health concerns, safely and effectively. But how do they work and what to expect? What you need to keep in mind to make the most of your online doctor appointments?

Which medical conditions are suitable for virtual visits?

Online, doctors are having consultations with patients that cover a number of common illnesses and injuries. They can treat lots of problems virtually.

These conditions include fevers, rashes, cold and flu, mild COVID-19 symptoms, aches and pains, minor musculoskeletal injuries, infections such as pink eye or strep throat, and even uncomplicated urinary tract infections.

Doctors also deal with patients undergoing overwhelming stress and anxiety as a result of the pandemic and they help them work through those emotions and connect them to options for ongoing care.

During your online doctor appointment, your healthcare provider will ask about your concerns and symptoms. They might do a visual exam, and look you over for rashes or other physical abnormalities. Sometimes, your provider may recommend that you make an appointment for an in-person test or exam. However, in many cases, virtual visits are all you need to address less pressing health concerns.

Managing chronic illness with telehealth

Patients who are managing ongoing health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis can also benefit from telemedicine. Doctors can help patients monitor their chronic conditions remotely.

You can even buy devices to use at home to measure heart rate, blood pressure and weight. The devices automatically upload the data to your medical chart for your doctor to review. Technology has really advanced in the past two or three years to allow doctors to do things they have never done before.

And even if you do not purchase such devices, your healthcare provider may be able to monitor your symptoms or adjust your medication without an in-person visit. It’s worth talking to your primary care doctor or specialist to see if they can perform a virtual visit.

7 tips to help you make the most of your online doctor appointment

How to make your online doctor appointments successful?

Virtual visits do not have to be cold or chaotic and the following tips ensure that they go as smoothly as possible.

1. Be on time

Make sure you are available before your online doctor appointment to answer any questions that your doctor’s or healthcare provider’s assistant might have. In some cases, your provider’s office might call between 15-20 minutes before your appointment or they might call the day before.

Basically, you will be asked the same questions you are asked during a routine in-person checkup. Also, be sure to have your medications nearby so you can refer to them. Having the most up-to-date information is critical to your health.

2. Be prepared

During your virtual visit, place your phone, tablet or computer on a level surface instead of holding it while speaking to your provider. Make sure your provider can see your face and your upper chest.

Unless you are really feeling poorly, try to stay upright and seated during your visit and do not move from one room to another. This will allow the provider to evaluate you the same way as they do in the office.

When you are speaking, your doctor or specialist will examine the way your chest moves and if your facial muscles are moving synchronously.

3. Check for good lighting

Similar to taking photos, make sure that the light source in the room is to the side or above and not behind you. It is difficult to see patients when they are sitting in front of a window with the shades open. Also, make sure that your camera screen is free from dirt for the best possible visual inspection.

4. Have pen and paper ready to take notes

Be sure to have paper and a pen with you so you can take notes during the visit. It is also helpful to have a penlight or a flashlight on-hand so that you can spotlight areas on your body where you may have a rash or injury. Or you can take a picture of the affected area and ask the assistant how to send it to your medical provider.

5. Avoid background noise

Avoid having virtual visits in a room with background noise, such as in a kitchen, or with a pet nearby. If possible, have someone else care for young children or animals in another room so you and your provider can focus on your visit.

6. Protect your privacy

Unless they are in the room to assist or provide additional information for your virtual visit, ask guests or family members to wait in another room until your appointment is over. Since sensitive information will be discussed during your visit, this can help protect your privacy.

7. Speak clearly and slowly

Keep in mind that the audio may be delayed on your end or your provider’s. This can cause the flow of your conversation to be a little bit slower. Use shorter sentences and allow more pauses in the conversation so that your medical provider does not miss anything you say.

With these tips, make the most of your online doctor appointments!

How to make the most of your online doctor appointment

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