10 Tips for a Better Telemedicine Appointment

Get used to video visits with your doctor. Here's some advice to make sure you're prepared and get the most from your virtual appointment
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Welcome to the age of telemedicine. These days, many of our medical appointments are done via a video platform. It’s the new normal. It took me awhile to get use to not having a doctor with me in a room, but in a pandemic, I did feel good about decreasing the risk by not going to a medical building.

This type of appointment may be around for quite a while, likely for good. There are ways to make sure you not only get a good connection technically, but also a good connection with your doctor.

1. If it is a video platform you will be using through an app, make sure you have the most recent version installed. Ask an office staff member at your doctor’s office if you can test the technology a few days prior to your appointment. This way if you have any issues you can work them out beforehand. 

2. Confirm the doctor has access to your most recent tests or other important information you need to cover, especially if you have had tests done through different medical centers. Have your own copies printed up so that you can review and reference them during your appointment.

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3. Get a direct phone number to the doctor’s office in case you are having connection problems the day of your appointment. You don’t want to call a number that sends you to a service. Many doctor’s offices have a backline so you can call directly. 

4. Try to take your own vitals including your temperature, blood pressure and oxygen if you have the devices to do so. 

5. Make sure your phone or computer is fully charged and that you are in an area for a good internet connection, and where you’ll be free of distractions and have some privacy. If you are making the call from a new spot, make sure you have the proper wi-fi and passcodes.

6. If you are doing the doctor’s appointment for someone else such as an elderly parent, make sure you let the doctor’s office know. I recently was taking the appointment for my 91-year-old mother to discuss her lab results. She needed to be in the room with me. If you aren’t able to have the person there, ask if it is okay to have a verbal approval from them by phone. 

7. If you feel your medical concerns need more than a virtual visit, express your concerns to your doctor.

8. Have all of your medical insurance updated with your provider prior to the call.

9. Have a list or the bottles of your current medications handy during your visit. Usually someone from the office will call in advance to confirm your current medications, but it’s good to have them handy during the doctor visit as well.

10. If you are seeing a doctor for something that is visible on your body such as bruising, consider taking photos in advance and sending them to their office.

Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection. She is a regular contributor to The Street’s Retirement Daily. Her work includes reporting for CBS, MarketWatch, WSJ Sunday and USA Today. Jeanette has contributed to The Today Show and a variety of other media outlets. You can follow her moneysaving tips on Facebook: Jeanette Pavini: Better Ways to Save Community or go to JeanettePavini.com.