We are midway in 2021 and doctors are once again making house calls. No, we have not taken a step back in time; rather, we have taken a step ahead. Instead of being on a patient’s door with a stethoscope, house calls today need no face-to-face visits, just an electronic device connected to a stable internet connection.
Telemedicine has quickly become ingrained in our modern standard, owing to its simplicity and the growing need to maintain healthcare efficiency for patients with chronic conditions in the event of a global pandemic. However, how should a patient plan for a virtual appointment, particularly the very first time?
To get the most out of your virtual appointment and to assist the doctor in assessing your condition, there are a few measures you may take.
Technology ready – Keeping a steady internet connection
The call’s efficiency must be exceptional. The consultation cannot be disrupted by technology. It is hard to emulate a face-to-face session over the phone when the connection is weak and the call is interrupted. Additionally, ensure that your device is fully charged or plugged in, that you have a comfortable and quiet place to sit during the session, and that your camera provides the doctor with a clear view of you.
Medical history and scanned copies of lab reports that you want to discuss with the doctor
As with an in-person appointment, getting an accurate medical history on hand assists the doctor during the assessment process. This will include any personal or family background, as well as environmental, lifestyle, and employment histories. Having this information available in advance facilitates an effective telemedicine visit and provides critical information to your doctor in order to provide you with the best treatment possible.
If you were initially advised to have any tests performed, it is important that you save scanned copies of your lab reports for easy access by your doctor. If this is your first visit, compile a list of your current symptoms, the date they began, and their severity. For starters, do you have a headache or are you experiencing trouble breathing or chest pain? Do you suffer from fatigue? Maintain a record of your symptoms. What is your current body temperature? Are you equipped with a blood pressure monitor? If that is the case, what is your blood pressure reading today? Compile a list of any medical conditions you are still experiencing and the medications you are taking.
Finally, take notes on the doctor’s advice and clarify all that is not clear.
Keep images and pictures of any wound or skin condition that you want to share with the doctor
To assist your doctor in examining your problem, take specific photographs of the areas that need examination. Ascertain that your photographs are well-lit. If possible, take your photographs in natural light. If necessary, use another source of light, such as a reading light or flashlight. Avoid shadows or glares. Take several photographs, one from each side of the region to be investigated. Ensure that you include the whole region around the affected part. If your region is difficult to see, you can use a marker to circle it or draw an arrow pointing towards it. Take photographs to aid in comparison. For instance, if there is spot on your hand, photograph both hands to show your doctor how that region typically appears.
Lastly, you might be curious about whether teleconsultation is as good as an in-person visit with a doctor. A teleconsultation has drawbacks – the doctor cannot examine your body or listen to your heart or lungs and solely rely on patient’s self-reports. This will necessitate doctors asking additional questions to obtain a complete health history. If a patient fails to identify a significant symptom, this may impede treatment which is why it is crucial that a person is well prepared for an appointment and is able to communicate all concerns to the doctor clearly.
MNT, 2020. Telemedicine benefits, disadvantages, and uses. Medical News Today. Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/telemedicine-benefits#disadvantages.
eVisit, 2020. Telemedicine: Ultimate Guide – Everything You Need to Know. eVisit. Available at: https://evisit.com/resources/what-is-telemedicine/.
Baig, E.C., 2020. Patient Tips for Successful Virtual Health Care Visits. AARP. Available at: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/how-telemedicine-works.html.
AAAAI, 10 Tips to Help You Master Your Telemedicine Visit: AAAAI. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Available at: https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/telemedicine.