How To Make the Most of Your Virtual Appointment
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many medical practices have turned to telehealth—also called virtual care—to provide health care to patients while limiting exposure to the virus.
Virtual care allows people to stay at home and communicate with their healthcare providers through phone, tablet or computer. It means your healthcare provider can continue to support your health even if he or she does not see you in person, in the office.
Virtual care visits can be an important tool for maintaining and improving health, especially right now. Try these five tips to make the most of your time.
1. Prepare ahead of time.
Just as you would before an in-person visit, write down all the questions you’d like to go over with your provider and make a list of medications you take. This will help both you and your provider stay on task and make the most of your time together.
Potential items for your list: your primary reason for the visit, how you’re managing any chronic conditions, mental health or mood concerns, and prescription side effects or refills.
2. Find a quiet space.
Find a private, quiet space in your home for your virtual visit. Try to eliminate as much background noise as possible.
Adjust the lighting if using video. Turn on overhead lights and block light from windows, which can cause too much background light in the video.
Good lighting is also important if you plan to take and send pictures to your provider ahead of time, which can be helpful. For example, you might want to show your provider a cut or burn on your skin.
3. Test all your equipment before you begin.
Make sure you have a good internet signal. Before your visit, check the volume level on your device to make sure audio is clear, and if using video, make sure your camera and microphone work well. Try to do a test run before your appointment.
Even if you’re on a computer or tablet, keep your phone nearby. If you are having trouble making a connection, your provider may call to help you get connected.
4. Use a secure connection.
Rest assured that your provider’s office is using a secure connection. What you are sharing is encrypted—meaning it’s concealed in code so that it cannot be read by an outside party.
To double-check, make sure the address in the web browser begins with https. The added “s” is key here. A website starting with https encrypts the data you provide to the website, and the data you get from it, so no one can eavesdrop or tamper with the data flow.
5. Check with your insurance provider to see what’s covered.
Contact your insurance provider to find out if both in-person and virtual visits are covered. That information may help you decide which is right for you.
If you need to send your provider any pictures, make sure they are high quality—your subject is in focus, and keep the picture free of distracting clutter.
If you think you may need an in-person visit instead of a telephone or video visit, call your healthcare provider.
To find a provider now accepting patients, visit our Find a Doc database.