Telehealth is increasing in popularity and is the fastest growing area in healthcare today. Appointments and consultations are conducted by phone or video link and are popular with patients and clinicians. Among their advantages are saving travel time and not having to wait around in a doctor’s office. If you are booked in for a telehealth appointment and are unsure how to prepare, here’s how to make the most of your time.
1. Find Out How it Will Work
Some appointments are carried out using a secure Internet connection with a video link. Others are done with a phone call. Check that all your contact details (email and phone) are correct and clarify how you will be contacted. For example, will the provider call you? If the Internet is being used, make sure you have a solid connection that will not freeze midway during the consultation and that you have a link to join the call. Some online appointments require the use of an app. It is best to install it before your appointment to avoid delays and check it works. Do not drive during your appointment as it is a dangerous distraction and can cause distractions for the provider.
2. Think Privacy
During your appointment, you may be asked very personal questions so the doctor or nurse can establish what is happening. Find somewhere you can talk so you won’t be disturbed or overheard. If you have small children, get a friend to mind them while you have your appointment so they don’t interrupt you. Don’t take the call at work or on public transportation, but arrange for somewhere private. It helps you relax but also protects your privacy. If the timing does not work for you, call the clinician’s office and ask for a different time or day.
3. Prepare for the Call
As with a face-to-face appointment, your telehealth consultation will be time-limited. Make the most of your time by preparing beforehand. For example, does the appointment letter ask for specific information? You can help by making sure you have everything on hand. Do also make a list of questions you have to ask them in the appointment. It’s really easy to forget what you plan to ask, but a written reminder will help you.
4. Do You Need Someone Else to Be With You?
If you are nervous about the appointment or want someone to be with you, ask the team whether it is possible to have someone sit in with you on the call. A close friend or relative may help support you if there is unwelcome news or you have to make a decision.
5. Are You Clear on the Outcomes of Your Appointment?
Once your appointment has ended, you need to be clear on the next steps and what was decided. You can make notes. Ask the clinician to summarize the next course of action so you are sure. They should follow this up with a written summary for you. Make sure you have asked all the questions you thought of and wrote down.