Telemedicine has been around for a while. Its use as a primary means of doctoring for non-emergency visits is reaching unprecedented heights during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. In-person visits are the ideal, of course; however, more clinics and private practices are choosing the telemedicine and virtual appointment alternative as way to minimize exposure to the virus. These alternatives keep both patient and doctor safe from infection.
It may take a bit to get used to this new way of communicating with your doctor. Keeping these tips in mind will help you make the most of your virtual or phone time. It is far better to switch to a safe alternative, rather than take the risk of being exposed to the virus.
Prepare for Your Appointment
Just as you would prepare for an in-person visit, it is important to make sure you are ready for your virtual or phone appointment as well. Writing down your concerns is the best way to ensure that all of them will be discussed. It is very easy to lose your train of thought when talking on the phone or participating in a video chat. Having a list in front of you will help keep you on track.
Two main questions to ask yourself prior to your appointment are, “Why do I need to talk to the Doctor today?” and “What is my biggest priority?” Get clear in your mind what you hope your time with your doctor will accomplish for you. Have a list of your symptoms and any changes you may have noticed lately. Be sure to note when you first noticed your symptoms. Your doctor may also ask you what makes your symptoms worse or better.
The Optimal Virtual/Phone Visit
With most households full now that everyone is staying home, finding a quiet time and spot to talk with your doctor may be challenging. Ideally, you can schedule the meeting during a quiet time. Virtual visits and phone calls can be problematic when there is a lot of background noise. Find a time and space that will be quiet during your appointment.
Cell phone reception needs to be considered, too, if you are using a cell phone. Your connection should be clear without any interference. If you are using a computer, you should have a good connection. Practice using your device or app before your appointment so you can troubleshoot any problems ahead of time.
Spam blockers on your phone should be removed right before time for your appointment. Otherwise you may miss your doctor’s call if it comes from a number that is not recognized. Many people do not answer calls from an unknown number. Be ready to answer when the call comes through, even if you do not recognize the number. You want to avoid phone tag with your doctor.
Emergencies and Office Visits
In most situations, you will know when you have an emergency that needs to be addressed. Of course, for a serious emergency, you should call 911 immediately. Sometimes the situation may not be that well defined. You may have a sprained ankle, or you could have a broken bone. In some circumstances, it can be challenging to determine if the problem requires emergency care. In other instances, it is clear. If the situation is urgent, but not an emergency, you can call your doctor for direction.
Sometimes office visits are still necessary, depending on the circumstances. You can call your doctor for help in deciding if your situation can be handled virtually or if you need an in-person visit. During this time of COVID-19, minimizing the necessity for patients to come into the office is important for your safety as well as ours.
Silicon Valley Orthopaedics strives to provide you with the best services, whether in person or virtual. We appreciate the trust you put in us, and we will continue to do our best to ensure the safety of our patients and staff members. We have telemedicine and virtual appointments available. Contact our office for scheduling.