The use of telemedicine has skyrocketed since the recent outbreak of COVID-19 across the world. This has caused many to either become more connected with their doctors or stop seeing their doctors all together. One may think, I’ll just wait until the office opens up again. Then, I’ll find out why my hip is still bothering me after that fall last week. However, it’s important to ask yourself, if you were living in a pre-pandemic world, would your concerns warrant an immediate call to your doctor’s office? If the answer is yes, then don’t put that call on hold.
Although a virtual appointment may seem intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s often faster and easier than an in-person visit.
Firstly, if you don’t have a primary care doctor, it’s important to know that many offices are allowing new patients to be received via telemedicine. Many urgent care settings and even hospitals are also conducting virtual visits during this time. Medicaid and Medicare are also covering some telemedicine visits, with varying specifics in each state.
Before your appointment
Make sure to prepare for the visit beforehand. When you first start feeling ill or experience an injury, you’ll want to keep track of your symptoms. When did they start? What makes them better or worse?
Make a list of what issues you want to cover during your conversation, addressing the most pressing issues first. This way, you won’t lose your train of thought or miss anything while speaking to your doctor. This can even include taking photos of any issues that are presenting themselves visually, which may be helpful to your doctor.
Test your technology. Make sure you take a couple of minutes to test your internet and video connection before the appointment. This prevents any avoidable communication issues from occurring during your appointment.
During your virtual visit
Find a quiet place to conduct your visit. This makes it easier for both parties and prevents any distractions from occurring.
If you have any medical equipment at home, be sure to have those on hand. This includes a thermometer, blood pressure machine, glucometer, scale, whatever it may be. Having these vital records available can help your doctor when attempting to make a diagnosis.
Sometimes a virtual visit isn’t enough
Lastly, it’s important to acknowledge that a telemedicine appointment won’t solve every issue you may have. Sometimes a visit to a radiologist, testing laboratory or specialist is necessary. However, if you’re not sure, ask a doctor! Surprisingly, many specialists like gynecologists, dermatologists and psychologists can conduct effective visits virtually. Let them decide if an in-person visit is necessary, but don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself if your concerns begin to grow.
Telemedicine has its limitations, but it’s not going anywhere any time soon, so don’t put your concerns on hold. The learning curve may not be as big as you imagine!