Your healthcare provider has offered the option of a telehealth, or telemedicine, appointment instead of an in-person visit. The convenience is appealing, especially at a time when we’re asked to stay home, wear masks, and keep our distance because of COVID-19.
But how do you know if a telehealth appointment makes sense for you? And are there steps you can take to get the most out of your virtual visit?
Julie Demaree, a physician assistant at Saratoga Hospital, was instrumental in implementing telehealth services for the multispecialty Saratoga Hospital Medical Group. She views video visits as an excellent option for many routine provider-patient visits.
“Patients see their medical providers for a lot of reasons that don’t necessarily require a hands-on physical exam,” Demaree says. “If you want to discuss new symptoms, risk factors, medications, or test results—these are all things we can do in a telehealth appointment. That’s important, particularly when we’re assessing you for symptoms of COVID-19.
“With the addition of video,” Demaree adds, we are even able to evaluate minor injuries and illnesses.”
She offers some tips on how to prepare for your telehealth visit.
- Test the technology. If your appointment is with a Saratoga Hospital Medical Group practice, they will send a link to your cell phone or email address. Click on the link to make sure it works. (Tip: Use Google Chrome or Apple Safari.) Urgent Care – Wilton and Malta Med Emergent Care use FaceTime or Webex, depending on your device. Also, make sure your microphone and camera are enabled. If you’re having trouble, call the office and ask them to walk you through the process.
- Write down questions and topics you want to cover just as you would for an in-person appointment. It’s the best way to ensure that all your concerns are addressed.
- Make a list of your medications. Better yet, place them next to you, so you can show them to your provider. If your provider has asked you to keep a log of blood pressure readings or similar information, have that on hand as well.
- Use the patient portal to fill out forms and update information. Telehealth services are available to all patients, even if you don’t use our patient portal. But if you’ve been thinking about signing up, now’s a great time.
- Remember that you’ll be on camera. Choose a quiet place that’s well lit, so your provider can see how you’re doing, and you can talk privately—free of distractions from other family members or pets. Dress appropriately.
Two important reminders:
- If you’re not feeling well, call your provider as early as possible. With almost any condition, the sooner you get treatment, the better your chance of a prompt recovery. Too many patients are waiting to get care because they’re afraid of catching COVID-19. By the time they come in, many are seriously ill.
If a telehealth visit is appropriate, we will see you that way. If you need to be seen in person, rest assured we are taking every safety precaution. At all locations, we are requiring masks, following social distancing, limiting patient and visitor access, and disinfecting surfaces in between patients.
- If you have a medical emergency—stroke symptoms, severe or sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, or other serious symptoms—call 911 or get to a hospital Emergency Department as quickly as possible