Gayle Byck: How to Get the Most Out of a Virtual Doctor Appointment

August 13, 2020

Gayle Byck

Gayle Byck

August 13, 2020

It's no surprise that online doctor appointments have become more common this year.

Meeting virtually can be a big shift in what patients are currently used to. If you've never experienced a virtual appointment, getting accustomed to them now will allow you to easily connect with your doctor no matter the circumstances. This is helpful in cases when you are traveling or simply prefer to connect online. 

Prepare for these appointments, just as you would for a work meeting, to get your questions answered and 'walk out' with the feeling that you accomplished what you set out to achieve.

How to Prepare for a Virtual Appointment

Check your insurance

Before you schedule your doctor’s appointment, check with your health insurance company to make sure that the virtual appointment will be covered to avoid any unexpected bills. Some states have required insurers to cover telehealth visits, but the only way to be sure is to check with your insurance company beforehand. 

Make sure your doctor has all the information they need

If you are meeting a new doctor, make sure that they have access to your medical records, lab results, and any other essential information. Also make sure to check if there is any paperwork to be filled out beforehand, even if the appointment is not with a new doctor. 

Assess your technology

It is suggested that you use either a tablet or computer for your online doctor appointments as opposed to a phone. If a phone is your only option, then it will work just fine - it may just be harder to communicate. 

Depending on your doctor, some appointments can be accessed through a link that will be emailed or texted to you while others will have you log into a patient portal where you will follow a link to connect with your doctor. If you have any technological problems, you can contact your doctor’s office and someone will be able to guide you through the process of accessing your virtual appointment. 

Gather any medical equipment 

If you have any medical equipment such as a blood pressure monitor, glucometer, heart monitor, or even a bathroom scale, you should have them all close by or easily accessible. This way, if your doctor asks for an up-to-date measurement, you are able to use the equipment right away, instead of spending time to look for it.

If you know ahead of time that you’ll be asked for any of this information, such as your blood sugar levels, take the measurement before the appointment. Write it down along with the time you took the reading.

Find a quiet spot to get set up

Once it’s time for your appointment, you should find a quiet spot with good lighting and prepare to log on to your appointment five minutes before the scheduled time. By logging on earlier, you will be able to troubleshoot any problems you have ahead of time so you do not feel stressed if you are unable to connect to the call. 

Have a back-up plan in case your technology does not work on the day of your appointment, such as a dial-in number by phone. And lastly, at the start of your appointment, start by asking your doctor what to do if there is a disconnection. Who will call the other back?

Prepare like you would for any other appointment

Before your appointment, prepare by taking some time to write down any questions you have or note down any new symptoms that you want to discuss with your doctor. Additionally, if you take any medications, you should have them close by so you are able to show your doctor, if needed.  

Ask a friend or family member to join you

A friend or family member can help you write down notes or ask questions and raise concerns during the appointment. It is also nice to have someone be there with you for overall support. 

During & After the Virtual Appointment

Explain your symptoms

Whether or not your appointment is with your normal doctor or a new doctor, be prepared to clearly explain your symptoms and walk your doctor through a timeline of events so they are able to better assess your condition. 

If it is your first doctor visit with a new physician, be prepared to walk them through your medical history and let them know of any surgeries that you’ve had or medications that you are currently taking. 

Take notes

It is important to take notes when talking with your doctor so that you are able to refer back to them after. It can be hard to remember everything correctly, especially if there is a lot to discuss during your appointment. Writing notes during your appointment can also help you think of questions that you may have about what your doctor discussed. 

Prepare for a follow-up appointment

Depending on your condition, your doctor may ask you to have an in-person follow-up appointment. If you need to schedule a diagnostic testing, contact the office to confirm your appointment and to inquire about how you will be billed. 

If you are unable to have a friend or family member join you for your appointment, you might consider hiring a Healthcare Advisor who will help you prepare for the appointment along with many other things.