During this pandemic, many doctors are switching over to a telemedicine visit. That’s a fancy way of saying a video call between a doctor and a patient. Although there are many good clinics in Goodyear and Surprise, AZ, doctors want to be safe around elderly patients. Many doctor’s offices are closed or restricted from seeing patients directly.
This seems like the closest substitute we have for a real visit.
The doctor should send you some kind of electronic invitation to discuss your condition through a computer, phone or tablet. It may not come from one of the normal video companies (Zoom, Skype, Google etc.). We’ve seen a lot of doctors using Doxy.me. Doctors have to make sure their communications with patients are secure and need to comply with HIPAA regulations. They may have to use some software that guarantees this security.
These visits are mostly for problems people are having right now. Doctors will postpone a lot of preventive medicine procedures such as pap smears, colonoscopies or mammograms which are ok waiting a few months.
Since the Telemedicine visit is not the ideal situation, you may want to consider doing more than you’re used to when visiting the doctor. That way you can still receive the most benefit from your appointment.
Here are some tips that might help:
Before the Telemedicine Visit
- Determine if you even need a telemedicine visit. Routine paperwork, prescription refills, or collecting documentation for your insurance company can easily be done over the phone with one of the doctor’s assistants.
- Make a list of issues you want to discuss – Write them down. It’s easy to think you will remember at the time and forget the day of the appointment. Try to put the most important issues first.
- Try to keep track of your symptoms, when they started and when they changed. If it makes sense, try to take pictures of what they are doing over time (rashes, irritations, swelling etc.)
- Sign up for your ‘patient portal’ if your doctor has one. You can see lab test results there or submit forms ahead of time. Then you can spend your appointment time more effectively discussing what can be done.
During the Call
- Call from a quiet place. Minimize distractions
- Make sure your device is plugged in. It would be a shame to have it shut down in the middle of a visit
- Have any medical devices that you think might be helpful nearby. The doctor may ask you to use them during the visit. Examples would be a thermometer, blood pressure cuff, glucometer (Diabetes?), a scale etc. You might be able to coordinate with the doctor’s staff ahead of time.
- Use a device that you can move around easily. The doctor may want to be able to look at a certain body part more closely.
After the call, everything should be pretty similar to an in-person doctor visit. They can write prescriptions, follow up with paperwork, and set another appointment if needed.
Hopefully we can go back to face-to-face visits very soon. In the meantime, telemedicine is a great tool to help us muddle through.