Alert

Make the most of your telehealth appointments

By Lateef Cannon, M.D.

Family medicine physician

Pardee Family Medicine Associates

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals and physician offices have started offering telemedicine, or virtual visits, to limit the spread of the virus. Here’s what to expect during your appointment and some tips to make the most of your visit.

The benefits of virtual visits

They’re safe and secure. Telemedicine visits allow you to stay safe and practice social distancing while getting the care you need. During a virtual appointment, you will connect with your provider through a private and secure video system. You and the provider will be able to see and hear one another.

They’re convenient. Virtual visits are a convenient way to get medical care when you’re not feeling well, have a busy schedule and can’t make it to the office, or don’t have transportation. Even during COVID-19, it’s still important to get regular medical care to prevent avoidable complications or worsening health issues. These appointments also allow you to get your prescriptions refilled.

They’re simple. If you can log on to the internet and navigate to a website, you can have a virtual visit. All you need is a smartphone, tablet or computer with internet access and a camera. If you’re on a computer, a Chrome or Firefox browser works best. If you have a virtual visit at Pardee, all you need to do is ensure you have the right device, call your provider’s office to schedule the appointment and follow the practice’s instructions.

How to have a good virtual visit

Check with your insurance company. Many insurance companies cover virtual visits, particularly during the pandemic, but it’s important to check with your insurance provider to make sure you’re covered. If your telehealth visit is covered, you’ll receive a billing statement with the applicable co-pay.

Prepare for the appointment. Write down any symptoms, questions or health concerns you have. Keep a list nearby of your preexisting conditions, over-the-counter medications, prescriptions and pharmacy’s contact information. If possible, have the medications and their containers with you. Also, have your insurance card and credit card handy for co-pays. If you have the option to initiate your video visit online through a patient portal, plan to do so 10-15 minutes ahead of time. This allows you to update insurance and/or pharmacy information, review your medical history, and get started with any questions your provider may have.

Choose the right space. Pick a private, comfortable place for your appointment where you won’t be interrupted. So your provider can see you, avoid sitting with your back to a window, lamp or other light source. Instead, position your computer or device between you and a window or light source.

Wear appropriate clothing for the appointment. For example, if you have a rash on your leg, wear loose-fitting pants that make it easy to show the provider during the visit.

Ensure you have a good internet connection. Choose a spot in your home (or wherever you are) with a strong internet connection. Log on a few minutes early to ensure everything is working before the appointment begins. Also, be sure your device is plugged in or fully charged before the visit.

Limit distractions. Ask your family to give you privacy, secure your pets and silence other devices so you can stay focused during the appointment.

Take notes. Depending on your health needs, your provider may recommend a follow-up appointment in person to do a physical exam or lab work. Bring notes from your virtual visit with you to help your follow-up appointment go smoothly.

With some groundwork and the right device, your virtual visits can go as smoothly as in-person appointments. To learn more about virtual visits, go to www.pardeehospital.org/virtual-visits.

Dr. Cannon is a family medicine physician at Pardee Family Medicine Associates.

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