Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your virtual visit.
When you’re getting ready for your first virtual visit, consider these important steps.
• Pick your technology. Before setting up an appointment, select whether you will use your smartphone or tablet and make sure your battery is fully charged. You don’t want to run out of power in the middle of your consultation.
• Ensure you have quiet and privacy. Find a quiet space with minimal interruptions close to your router or computer (the closer you are to your wi-fi signal, the better the connection will be). Turn off the TV and any noisy devices, Keep pets out of the way. If possible, sit in front of a solid-colored wall rather than a patterned or cluttered background or a window. The video connection can pick up every point of light and may need to be uploaded constantly; more complicated or shifting background patterns can slow down or interrupt your connection.
• Control the lighting. Your doctor needs to get a good and clear look at you so position any light in front or to the side. Consider placing your phone or tablet in a stable position, in a holder or lean it against something heavy rather than holding it. You may need your hands to take notes.
• Write down your questions in advance. Prepare a list of your concerns or questions ahead of time and place them near where you will hold your video visit.
• Have your medications handy. Either draft a list of all your medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements, or gather the actual medications and place them where you’ll take the call or video visit. On every visit, you’ll want to confirm with your doctor exactly what, when, and how you are taking everything.
• Know the parameters. Before the visit, ask your doctor or the office staff what the doctor will be looking for—and what supplies you may need. Ask how long the visit will be and what the doctor will want to have you do. Depending on why you are seeing the doctor and how, he or she may ask you to check your temperature, weight, or blood pressure if you have the ability and equipment at home to do so. Your doctor also will ask about changes in your symptoms since your last visit. He or she may ask you to stand, walk, or perform certain movements during the visit so that he or she can evaluate whether your symptoms are getting better or worse, which will inform decisions about your treatment. Finally, your doctor will make recommendations or develop a treatment plan.
• Ask about a follow up. Ask if you should write down your doctor’s recommendations or plan, or if they will be mailed, emailed. If you’re writing it down, ask if you can say the instructions back to make sure you have everything right. For example, “Dr. Brown, you said that I should take my seizure medication twice each day, and I should add a second dose of my headache medication.” This allows the doctor to correct any misunderstandings and make sure you are both in agreement.
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