While telehealth was already a growing field before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, since 2020, accessibility to and demand for online consultations have skyrocketed.
However, many people who have never seen a practitioner virtually before have felt a little anxious and cautious about trying out an appointment done this way. If you’re new to this type of consultation, you can follow tips to increase the likelihood that conversations progress effectively.
Understand Pros and Cons
Before you book an appointment to see an online doctor, make sure you understand what is and isn’t possible via telehealth and set reasonable expectations. There are pros and cons to digital consultations. For example, through telemedicine, you can enjoy more flexibility and convenience and save time because you don’t have to travel to a clinic and wait around.
Many people find over the phone or internet conversations mentally and emotionally easier, as they can feel more comfortable and relaxed in their own homes. Another plus is that if patients have issues related to their properties, such as struggling to get upstairs, doctors can ask to see visuals of rooms to get a clearer idea of the situation.
On the other hand, not everything can be sorted out digitally. Some conditions require physical examinations because holding a camera up to your body won’t suffice. Plus, some prescriptions can’t be given out digitally, such as medical marijuana and antipsychotic drugs. If you’re aware of the benefits and limitations of telehealth consultations, this will reduce the likelihood of disappointment or frustration.
Check Your Tech
One of the most significant factors in the chances of having a successful telemedicine session is having technology set up correctly. Take the time to test the service you plan to use before your appointment. Check that your computer, smartphone, or tablet is working and the microphone, audio transmitter, and video function.
Ask the doctor’s office which specific browser might be best to use (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer). Plus, it pays to restart devices on the day of your appointment, so minor tech glitches might work themselves out and have a quick test run of software with a friend or family member.
Check your Wi-Fi connection, too, and find the best spot in your home or office to chat where you’ll have the strongest signal. It also pays to close other applications on your device, so there’s less likelihood of software running slowly.
Another part of getting the tech right is considering lighting and camera positions. Your health practitioner needs to see you clearly, especially if you want to show them a part of your body. Try to position yourself near natural light or at least near quality light from above and direct lamp lighting for best results. Test your camera position, too, to ensure you’re not partly off the frame.
Find a Quiet Spot to Chat
When trying to have a serious, private conversation with a health practitioner, the last thing you want is distracting noise or people or pets interrupting you. Avoid these situations by finding a quiet spot for your appointment, preferably behind closed doors.
If you’re going to be in a space with others at the time, ask them to keep noise such as TVs, sound systems, and their own conversations on the down low, and remind them that you’ll be unavailable for the period.
Don’t Try to Multitask
Give your full attention to your doctor when chatting, too. Don’t try to multitask by keeping an eye on emails or watching out for your child coming out from school at the end of the day, for instance. Instead, schedule your appointment for a time when you can commit your whole focus to the medical conversation at hand.
Similarly, leave enough room after your scheduled appointment time for a chat to start late or go over the allotted period; you don’t want to have to end the call early.
Additional tips for successful telehealth consultations include:
- Treating sessions as seriously and respectfully as you would regular in-person visits
- Write down questions, lists of medication you take, and other notes for yourself in advance, so you don’t forget critical information during your conversation.
- Have someone else in the room with you as needed for moral support and another pair of ears and ears to remember details and take notes
- Repeat instructions to ensure you’ve heard and understood them correctly
- Discuss follow up care, such as symptoms to look out for or when you should next see the practitioner
As you can see, with just a small amount of preparation, clear thinking, and understanding, you can set yourself up for telehealth appointments that go smoothly and successfully.
Featured Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels