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How to Get the Most from Your Telehealth Appointment

Virtual appointments with your doctor – called telemedicine – are one of the many ways people are adapting to a "new normal" in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth is not a new concept, but it has become an increasingly vital way for patients to take care of their health even if they don't want to – or can't – go to the doctor's office.

Most preventative and follow-up care can be effectively managed through telemedicine. The best way to know for sure is to call your doctor's office.

Once you schedule a telehealth appointment, here's how to make the most of your virtual visit:

  1. Be prepared with the technology you need – a smartphone, tablet or computer with a front-facing camera and working microphone. Be sure the device is plugged in or charged and you have reliable internet connectivity. Download any necessary software before your visit to make sure it works with your browser and is ready to go.
  2. Find a quiet place so you are not interrupted while you talk with the doctor. It should be well-lit and away from noise or interruptions.
  3. Get together any information the doctor's office asked you to have ready for the appointment. This may include your weight, temperature, pulse rate and blood pressure (if you have a blood pressure monitor at home). Also have a list of current medications, vitamins and supplements you take, as well as photos of anything you want the doctor to see close up. If you have medical records or lab tests the doctor you are seeing doesn't know about, have those with you, too.
  4. Prepare a list of questions, concerns or symptoms that you want to discuss with the doctor. Since this type of communication may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, it is best to have everything written down so you don't forget anything. Also have a pad and pen available to write down information your doctor provides so you don't forget it.
  5. Have patience. It's possible the connection may be interrupted or there may be glitches in the software due to heavy use. You may have to do some troubleshooting, reconnect or repeat part of the conversation, but for the most part, your visit should be mostly trouble-free. Once you get the hang of it, you'll likely find that telemedicine is a convenient and effective way to manage many health issues.

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Date Last Reviewed: May 19, 2020
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD
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