by Edward C. Baig, AARP, April 15, 2020
One of the challenging aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that social distancing and stay-at-home orders have made it more difficult to have a face-to-face meeting with your doctor.
For many physicians and patients, the remedy is telemedicine: the ability to remotely connect with a health care provider in real time, often over video, and sometimes via telephone, email, app or online patient portal.
Here are some common steps and tips to prepare for such a virtual visit.
- Make sure you are tech-ready. You will need a smartphone, tablet or PC for a remote consultation, along with a reliable broadband or cellular connection to the internet.
- Check your insurance. Not every private insurer will cover telemedicine sessions. Consult your provider to find out what’s covered under your plan.
- Make an appointment. Call your doctor’s office or visit the practice’s patient portal to make a virtual appointment.
- Describe your symptoms. Depending on the app, you may be asked to fill in or check off symptoms.
- Practice good security. Ask your medical provider about the steps taken to ensure your privacy.
- Be prepared to wait. You may be placed in a digital waiting room before the session with a doctor begins. (Bring your own magazine.)
- The doctor is in. When your appointment begins, the doctor will be seen on the screen (or heard on a phone) and will ask questions like in a typical examination.
- Video can help virtual exam. With video a doctor can have you stick out your tongue, walk around and so on.
- You still may need to be seen in person. Only so much can be done remotely, so an in-person appointment may need to be scheduled.