Over the past two years, the use of telehealth has skyrocketed, and understandably so. Not only has it helped keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic while still accessing care when needed, but it is also very convenient. Oftentimes it is easier and faster to schedule a telehealth visit versus a traditional in-person appointment. You can meet with your healthcare provider from almost anywhere, there is no time spent traveling or waiting at the office, and you can even complete your visit while at home with your kids or pets (no need for a sitter!). These are all great pros in favor of telehealth. However, in order to get the most benefit from these virtual visits, there are a few key tips to keep in mind:
Before the visit:
- Confirm the visit is covered by your insurance plan. Many health plans are expanding access to telehealth, but it is still important to double check in advance to be sure you do not receive an unexpected bill later on.
- Test your technology in advance! Try logging into any necessary accounts, ensure your internet is working properly, and confirm your computer or phone is charged and ready to go. While glitches are sometimes unavoidable, it still helps to do what we can to prepare.
- Set yourself up for success. Plan to take the call in a quiet spot without background noise or distractions. Consider using headphones/earphones if needed.
- Prepare questions or concerns in advance, and make sure to write them down so you don’t forget anything you want to discuss with your provider. Also have a list of medications you’re taking handy, as it may come up during the visit. Consider taking photos of things you want to show the provider in advance, like any skin issues or bruises.
During the visit:
- Invite a loved one to join you if comfortable doing so. Having another set of ears is always helpful to remember what was discussed, and they may have noticed or think of things you don’t.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask what the next steps are. Is a follow-up needed? Should you be seen in-person?
After the visit:
- Take care of any follow-up tasks, like scheduling your next appointment (virtual or in-person) or picking up your prescription.
- Check your Explanation of Benefits when it arrives to make sure the visit was covered as expected.
Telehealth is a fantastic tool when used appropriately, such as for short follow-up visits or instances that do not require procedures like blood draws. It is still important to opt for in-person when needed. Not everything can be seen by a camera, and urgent issues–like chest pain or trouble breathing–should be addressed immediately in person.