The COVID pandemic brought telehealth into the mainstream. 85% of Americans say telehealth made it easier for them to get the care they needed. Whether they were quarantined at home, hesitant to leave the house, or just liked the convenience of virtual doctor visits, more people took part in virtual office visits in 2020 than ever before.
Even as the pandemic eases, the trend continues. Nearly every insurance company accepts virtual visits as part of its plan these days, including Medicare and Medicaid. Before your visit, however, you will want to check with your insurance provider to avoid any surprises. While most carriers do cover them, some may require a copay just like an office visit or limit coverage to certain types of visits.
For patients, it’s reduced travel and waiting time and eased the burden for those with small children or having to care for others that can’t be left alone. For those that are sick, it made a big difference in comfort and reduced the fear of catching something else from other ill patients while suffering from diminished immunity.
Today, virtual doctor visits are being used in multiple fields, including:
- Primary care
- Family medicine
- Urgent care
- Prenatal care
- Mental health care
- Diabetes care and management
- Genetic counseling
Tips for the Best Telehealth Visits
To get the best experience from your virtual visit, here are a few tips to make things go more smoothly.
Make Sure Your Tech Is Ready
Once you’ve decided to use telehealth for your medical care, all you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer with a camera and an internet connection. Test out your device, camera, and microphone ahead of time to make sure everything works. Make sure you have a fast enough internet or Wi-Fi connection to accommodate a video visit.
When it’s time for your visit, shut down other applications or windows that have the potential to slow down your connection.
While you don’t need stage lighting, you do want to be in a well-lit place, especially if you need to show something to your healthcare provider.
Find a Private Place
You want to be able to talk openly with your healthcare provider and be free from distractions. If you’re living in an apartment with roommates milling around, you may be able to shut yourself off in a bedroom or you may want to move to your car or a friend’s place for privacy.
You also don’t want to be disturbed during your visit, so make sure the kids are down for a nap or someone else is watching them.
Set reminders so that you don’t miss your appointment. Use the alarm clock on your phone, notifications on your calendar program, an alarm clock, or sticky notes — whatever works for you! You want to make sure you are on time and ready when the visit begins.
Virtual Visit Preparation
You want to use your time and the doctor’s time efficiently, but you also don’t want to forget key items you need to discuss. It helps to write them down and make a list of anything you want to talk about. This includes your symptoms, questions, and any concerns you have. You should also do the things they do during your visit, such as checking your temperature, height and weight, and blood pressure if possible.
You should also keep a list of your current medication (if any) or grab the bottles and have them with you. Before prescribing anything, your doctor will want to check to make sure there won’t be conflicts with what you’re already taking. Get the address and phone number of your pharmacy and have it ready, too.
Check your email for any last-minute instructions from your provider. The office may send you details about your appointment or provide you with a link to connect.
Before your visit, fill out any forms you need to do online. It will save time to provide your medical history and your concerns ahead of time rather than having to explain them.
Have Your Payment Information Ready
Just like when you go to an in-person visit, you need to be prepared to handle the fee for your appointment. Whether it’s a copay or otherwise, make sure you have your credit card and the appropriate insurance information nearby.
Keep a pen and paper nearby in case you want to take notes about anything you discuss with your healthcare provider.
Be Prepared for an In-Person Follow-Up
While a virtual doctor’s visit can be a great way to get medical attention, there are many cases where an in-person visit will be necessary. Don’t be surprised if the doctor suggests you follow up with an office appointment or suggests you go to a client or urgent care center.
If that happens, bring your notes with you so you can remember what’s been discussed and share them with your doctor during your in-person visit.