The doctors might be in – but good luck getting in to see one right now.
Just about all non-essential medical visits are on hold as the world shuts down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
And if you need routine care… if you have an appointment, whether it’s an eye exam, a blood pressure check, or even a non-urgent illness… they want you to STAY IN THE HOUSE.
Even many suspected coronavirus patients are being told to stay home.
But just because you can’t see your doctor in person doesn’t mean you can’t get care.
The sudden shutdowns have led to a rapid jump in virtual appointments. Often called “telemedicine,” this is when you meet with your doctor via phone or the Internet.
These appointments can be really convenient. But they can also sometimes be a bit confusing or intimidating if it’s your first time or you don’t consider yourself very tech-savvy.
So let’s go ahead and cut through the mystery. I’ll explain how you can easily get what you need from your doctor without ever leaving your home.
4 PREP STEPS for telemedicine success
If you’re not sick right now and don’t need care, DON’T delete this message yet.
In fact, it’s more important to act right now, because there’s a little bit of advanced work needed for online, virtual, and telemedicine appointments. And if you take care of all that today, it’ll be a whole lot easier to handle one of these appointments if and when you do need them down the road.
First, visit the website of your medical provider.
Second, register for an online account if you need one and don’t have one yet.
Third, download any apps that might be needed for your computer or cell phone. But make sure you get them either directly from your provider’s website, or that it’s your official provider’s app inside the actual app store for your phone.
And fourth, realize you may need to repeat this process. You may need one account and/or app to access your doctor, for example, and another for your pharmacy.
Now that you have everything, you can usually make an appointment or ask non-emergency questions right through the app or website. And most allow you to take and send pictures to your doctor, too.
You may also be able to request prescription refills, and have them available for pickup or – better still – shipped to your home.
Ace your VIRTUAL medical visit like a PRO
If you need a one-on-one consultation, you can call your doctor to make a “virtual” appointment or do it through the app or website.
Some larger providers may have video chat features built right into their app. Others will want to call you either via the phone or a video chat option such as FaceTime built into iPhones and iPads or free software like Zoom.
BEFORE your appointment, write down any symptoms, questions, and concerns you have. You can also take your own temperature and – if you have a reader – your blood pressure, and write that down as well to give to the doctor.
DURING your appointment, turn the TV off and move to a quiet place in your home. If it’s a video chat, good lighting is also important.
AFTER your appointment, email, or use the app to contact your doctor or his staff with follow-up questions or concerns.
Obviously, if there is a medical emergency – or if you suspect coronavirus, have heart or stroke symptoms, or any serious illness – don’t go fiddling with apps or messing around on websites. Either call your medical doctor or 911 depending on the situation, and get help ASAP.