Online Private Doctor Appointment – How to Prepare for a Virtual Doctor’s Visit
If you or your child is new to telehealth, there are a few things you should know before you hop online for your first visit.

How to Prepare for a Virtual Doctor’s Visit

If you or your child is new to telehealth, there are a few things you should know before you hop online for your first visit.

  • Check that you have the right equipment. Most telehealth visits involve a video component. To be able to connect using both video and audio requires the use of a smartphone, tablet or computer that’s connected to the internet. You may also need to download an app or software to connect with the provider. Before your first visit, be sure you have the right hardware, that it’s powered up and ready to go at the time of your appointment and remember that “you also have to have a good internet connection” for the software to work properly, Valdivieso says. Not always an easy task for all, but a stronger signal means a smoother, more stable and reliable connection.
  • Check with your insurance company. Rules and regulations are changing rapidly, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s always best to double check with your health insurance provider whether a particular telehealth session will be covered prior to the session.
  • Sit in a quiet, comfortable, well-lit place. Though it might be challenging right now to find a space that’s separate from others who may also be home from work and school, do your best to find a quiet, comfortable corner with as few distractions and as little noise as possible. “Don’t sit in the car or outside in a noisy environment,” Valdivieso says. And make sure that the room is light enough so that your provider can see your face clearly.
  • Be aware the call might drop. Yonushonis says that she preps her clients to “be ready in case the call drops” because with so many of us now working from home and making demands on internet bandwidth, the connection could get disrupted. “I tell them, ‘I’ll call you back right away’” to continue the session.
  • Maximize your audio. Often, using head phones or earbuds can make it much easier to hear the person on the other side of the call. Wearing these devices also helps improve the privacy of the conversation.
  • Prepare as you would for any other visit. It’s a good idea to sit down prior to any doctor visit to jot down some notes or list any symptoms you want to discuss. This will help you organize your thoughts and prevent you from forgetting anything important. If your visit is related to mental health, Yonushonis says you should also “come into the first session with an idea of what you want to share.”
  • Be patient. Valdivieso says there’s a “learning curve” associated with getting the software set up and functional. Plan a few extra minutes before the session to make sure the speakers are turned on, the video is working properly and you have a good internet connection. Yonushonis adds that it’s important to stay patient during the call because sometimes “we’ve had some lag time because the internet is overloaded. The screen might freeze,” but it usually resolves quickly. Roll with the punches as best you can and know that your clinician is working to get back in touch with you as quickly as possible.
  • Arrive with an open mind. Yonushonis says keep an open mind, especially if you’re a bit skeptical about telehealth. “Therapy can definitely provide the support you need right now” in these very  uncertain and anxious times. “Don’t feel like you have to put your mental health progress on hold right now. You can access help right now.”

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