Prior to COVID-19, almost all patient-doctor interactions were conducted face-to-face. From March to August of 2020, that changed drastically, as physicians and patients alike embraced the concept of telehealth services.
In the first few months of the pandemic, approximately 13% of all patient visits went from in-person to telehealth. That number has since declined to about 8%, but it’s evident that both physicians and patients love telehealth services and that they’re here to stay.
Looking for ways to make your next telehealth appointment run smoothly?
Here are some helpful tips that patients can use to have efficient and successful virtual appointments, as well as a few bonus tips for physicians getting accustomed to working with patients virtually.
Virtual Appointment Tips for Patients
There’s no question that opening your phone or laptop and seeing your doctor via a screen is more convenient than getting dressed, driving to the office, and sitting in a waiting room for 20 minutes. It is even different from in-home doctor visit where doctors visits you at your home. But in-home telehealth visits do require some different types of preparation.
Here are four things you can do to prepare for your next virtual appointment that will make it more efficient and more effective.
Find a Quiet Location
You can attend a virtual health appointment from anywhere, but doing so while you drive to work or while your kids or pets are jumping around in the background is not ideal.
It’s important to have a private, quiet space for your appointment. That space needs to have good lighting so that the doctor can see you clearly and enough room that you can walk around if the doctor needs you to get up and move.
Check Your Tech
To have a successful virtual appointment you’ll need a strong Wi-Fi connection and a laptop or device with a functioning camera, microphone, and speaker. You’ll also need the capability to run the software your physician will use to conduct the appointment.
Prior to the appointment, your physician’s office will let you know which patient portal, software, or app to use. This may require you to download software or app to your device, and in some cases you may have to create an account and set up a password.
Don’t wait until five minutes before your appointment to do this. Do it several days prior to your appointment in case you run into technical difficulties.
If you need assistance, contact your physician’s office. The office staff will be able to guide you through the process to ensure that you’re prepared and ready to meet with the physician at your scheduled time.
Prepare a List of Questions
Before your appointment, take the time to prepare a list of questions for your physician. If you need prescriptions refilled, write it down so you don’t forget to ask. If you have concerns or are wondering if you need further testing, jot it down and ask the physician what your next steps should be.
Treat your telehealth visit as you would an in-person visit and be ready to ask your doctor everything you want to ask while you have their full attention.
This tip applies whether you’re visiting your doctor virtually or in person. If you’re not honest about your lifestyle, your behaviors, and your symptoms, you may not get the most effective medical care.
If your physician’s staff sends you a pre-exam list of questions to fill out, be honest. They won’t be able to diagnose or treat you properly unless they have a full and complete understanding of your situation or condition.
Virtual Appointment Tips for Physicians
In order to conduct safe, legal, and effective virtual appointments, there are some things that physicians need to keep in mind as well.
Like Patients, Come Prepared
To keep appointments running on or close to schedule, take some precautionary steps before each appointment begins.
- Setting up a private space for appointments in accordance with HIPPA laws
- Having a staff member ensure that all technical equipment is working properly
- Reviewing the patient’s medical history and reasons for the visit
Before You Start Providing Telehealth Visits, Check Your Contract
Many physicians are choosing to provide telehealth services as a side job to supplement their full-time income. As attractive as this may seem, check your current employment contract before you do, otherwise you could be in violation of a non-compete clause or some other restrictive covenant.
Check out this guide for more information on physician contracts and the importance of physician contract review.
With the right technology and proper preparation, you can make your next virtual appointment a success, whether you’re the patient in need of care or the physician providing that care.
Telehealth services aren’t going anywhere, so becoming accustomed to them now will only make your future appointments more successful and easier to manage.
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