Telemedicine appointments—video visits with a health care provider using a computer, tablet or smartphone—have surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many experts think their popularity is unlikely to fade once life returns to normal. That means it’s important to get comfortable with and learn how to get the most out of a video visit. These six tips can help:
1. Set the (clinical) stage.
With a video visit, your primary care provider’s office is wherever you are. Whatever space you choose, it should be private, quiet and free of distractions. Your provider needs to be able to see you clearly, so sit facing a window, which will keep you from being backlit, or put a lamp next to your computer. Place your device at eye level and ensure your background isn’t too busy—a bare wall is a good choice.
2. Make sure your tech is ready to support you.
Everything is riding on your internet connection, so be sure it’s strong. Make sure your device has a full charge or plug it in for the video visit, if necessary. Check to ensure your webcam and microphone are functioning.
3. Lay the groundwork for success.
It’s important to go into your video visit prepared. The provider will want to know your health history, so be ready to discuss any chronic medical conditions you have, the medications you take and any symptoms you’ve experienced. Make a list of questions you want to ask the provider so nothing important slips your mind. If you’re able to take any vital signs, such as blood pressure or weight, before the visit, it will make for a more efficient appointment and help the provider evaluate you.
4. Download the app you’ll need.
At Augusta University Health, video visits take place through ExpressCare, a free app available from the App Store or Google Play. Once you download the app and provide some basic personal and insurance information, you can choose the type of provider you’d like to see—family medicine physicians and pediatricians are available, as well as a variety of specialists—select a pharmacy in case you need a prescription and begin your video visit.
5. Proceed as normal.
Don’t let the unfamiliarity of seeing your provider on screen instead of in person throw you off balance. Treat your appointment like a typical, in-office visit, and feel free to discuss any health matter that’s on your mind.
6. Know what comes next.
Don’t end your video visit without clear understanding of the next step in your care, whether it’s taking medication, engaging in self-care, seeing a specialist, having an imaging test, or returning for another visit with your provider in a week or two.