As a rheumatologist, my top priority is keeping my patients safe, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, while managing their conditions. This means increasingly turning to telemedicine for many routine visits, allowing patients and medical professionals to have virtual appointments via video or phone calls.
Telemedicine has quickly become an important tool in helping me provide care to my patients, and I have adapted to using technology to maintain connections and help my patients manage their conditions during this time. Even as some locations begin to ease social distancing restrictions, telemedicine appointments will likely continue to be more common.
"My top priority is keeping my patients safe, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic...this means increasingly turning to telemedicine for many routine visits."
Below are a few tips to keep in mind for your next telemedicine appointment:
- Set up and double-check your technology before the appointment: If your medical provider uses a web-based portal, make sure you have a strong, reliable internet connection and install any required downloads in advance. Your medical provider’s office staff should provide instructions for logging in and creating an account before your visit. It’s always a good idea to test links to anticipate any issues that may arise, but sometimes problems can still come up, so ensure you have access to a phone as a backup option. For some of my patients, having a tech-savvy family member available during the appointment also helps.
- Prepare for the discussion: As with in-person appointments, efficiency is key–so think about what you want to talk about with your rheumatologist, including any new symptoms or concerns. Writing down the things you’d like to discuss can help you make the most of your appointment. This Doctor Conversation Worksheet may be a useful tool to help organize your thoughts in advance. When you’re ready for the appointment, find a quiet, comfortable place for your conversation. If you feel it would be helpful, ask a family member or caregiver to join you and take notes.
- Coordinate with medical staff: Now more than ever, the staff at your doctor’s office is working together to provide you with the best possible care, even remotely. They will help decide whether your visit could occur via telemedicine. If you do need to come in, many medical practices have implemented new safety protocols for patients who need to attend in-person appointments. For any visit, make sure first to fill out all forms and complete any lab tests as requested by your physician's office. These are extremely important for a virtual visit as they help provide your doctor with vital information about your health. Following the appointment, don’t hesitate to reach out to office staff if you need help filling a prescription or scheduling a follow-up visit.
The health information contained in this article is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider. All decisions regarding patient care must be made with a healthcare provider, considering the unique characteristics of the patient.
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