Over the past several months, the ways in which healthcare can be provided to patients and their families has changed drastically. Providers and patients both have had to expand their possibilities and modes of giving and receiving healthcare. To limit exposure and risk, clinics have had to decrease their patient schedules and conversely, telemedicine has exploded. Many families and doctors alike have ventured into this “uncharted territory”. Video telehealth visits will likely continue for some time in the future and may become a significant permanent addition to some departments as they allow the benefits of less travel and less risk of exposure to both providers and families. Telemedicine can be a convenient and safe way to communicate with your provider in real time. Here are some tips to making your telemedicine video visit successful and less stressful!
Know the date and time of your visit! It is easy to forget an appointment when you don’t have to go anywhere for it. Mark your calendar, set a phone or device reminder for an hour before your visit so that you have time to set up. Check into your visit 15 minutes prior to your appointment time. Make sure you leave enough time for your child’s appointment and that you don’t schedule any other conflicts, such as appointments for yourself or any other family members that you would have to attend.
Find a quiet space. Limit background sound – turn off music and the TV. Limit the number of other family members or people in the same room. This will allow for less distraction and provide privacy for discussion and examination with your child and provider.
Light up your space as much as possible. Have your light in front of you, not behind you (don’t sit with your back to a bright window) so that your provider can see you and your child well. Position your child in a way that makes it easiest for the provider to examine them clearly. Having a flashlight ready may help if the provider needs to look in your child’s throat or at something on the skin.
Equip yourself! Make sure your phone or device is charged and have a charger available and ready. Better yet, if possible, plug in your device during your visit. Video sessions can drain a device battery quickly and cause unwanted interruptions, possibly ending your visit early. Other equipment that might be useful if you have it available at home: a thermometer, a scale (or know your child’s weight), and a pencil or pen and paper for notetaking.
Prepare your child. Firstly, your child needs to be present. It is always helpful if they are rested and fed. Be prepared to adjust if your visit overlaps with naptime. Have snacks or toys ready to keep young ones occupied, including something for siblings if they also need to be present. If you are seeing a provider who may prescribe medication for your child, have your child’s other medications (if they are taking any) with you to review if needed.
Of course, problems will happen – sound or camera won’t work, your child is uncooperative, some other conflict has arisen. We all need to be patient, flexible, and tolerant in these changing times. If you encounter trouble with your video visit, have our scheduling and Information Services phone numbers ready – they can help get you reconnected or rescheduled.
Stefanie R. Bester, MD, is a primary care physician at Westside Primary Center. She supervises an asthma specialty clinic once a week. Dr. Bester also precepts medical students in the clinic throughout the year.
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