5 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Telehealth Appointments

February 11, 2021 - 7 minutes read

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Telehealth is one technology that emerged during the pandemic that experts expect to stick around after we’ve all gotten our vaccines. But, despite what most think it entails, telemedicine doesn’t just mean a simple Zoom or FaceTime video call. With new telehealth platforms, doctors can now store and pull up bloodwork, test results, MRIs, x-rays, and medical history all while video chatting with you.

These platforms allow for a two-way communication flow between the provider and patient, as the patient can become engaged in their own care by sharing information through the platform. Patients can also approve access to their medical chart for other providers and hospitals, which saves time and effort for everyone, especially the patient. Whether or not it’s your first time interacting with your doctor on a telemedicine platform, here are five ways you can optimize your telehealth appointment to take maximum advantage of your doctor’s time and knowledge.

#1: Set Up Early

Patients might be too sick or tired to go through all of the steps in setting up a new online account or activating a new account. But it’s imperative that you take the proper steps to ensure that you’re set up and ready to go well before your appointment time. If you try to get set up at the last minute, you may cause a delay in starting your appointment, and your provider could even have you reschedule if you don’t make it to the conference within a reasonable amount of time. If you’re really sick, it may be disastrous to your physical and mental health to have to wait another few weeks for another appointment.

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Many hospitals and private practices use well-known and popular medical portals like MyChart or San Francisco-based BlueJeans. Because of the recent growth of telemedicine, however, most patients will not have an account on one of these platforms. Before the appointment, check and verify the password is working, you’ve got the necessary software downloaded, and that things look like they are yours. Many providers encourage their patients by telling them that it may feel overwhelming to set up a new account, but that it’s really very easy to do.

#2: Share Medical Images Early

Speaking of getting things set up early, if you know you want to show your doctor medical images from your last scan, get a copy of your images before the visit. If the copy is a physical copy, have the copy sent to your provider’s office. It’s best to just ask your radiologist for a copy of the files before you leave their office, but it’s easy to forget this step when you’re eager to get back home or back to work.

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Some offices use technology like Patient Connect, created by medical development company LifeImage. It sends patients a link where they can upload their images directly from their local computer. And if you’re facing a problem that prevents you from sharing your medical images, call your doctor and let them know about the situation. They’ll figure out how to get your images on your behalf so that you’re ready to go for your upcoming appointment.

#3: Round Up Your Records

While you’re hunting down your medical images, make sure your medical chart is up to date. If you’ve visited any specialists recently or had a hospital visit, ask them for their notes. Providers often need documented reasons to see patients, and these notes will help them prepare for the appointment as well as bolster evidence of your condition or illness.

Preparing these records ahead of time can also prevent your provider from canceling your appointment or refusing to give you medication. Try to do some due diligence in updating your medical records for your current provider to see.

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#4: Fill Out Your Contacts Early

After you update your medical chart, head over to the contacts section and fill it out to the best of your ability. It can be your best friend or a family member. C0ntacts can also be other doctors you see for other medical reasons. Having a list of this information helps providers reach someone for context and questions if you can’t be reached. The data gathered from your contact list can save your life during surgery or during prescription writing.

#5: Be Truthful About Your Medical History

It’s easy to reframe your medical history in a way that wouldn’t garner too much judgment: leave out a lot of details. But doctors and nurses have heard everything under the sun (and then some), so don’t be afraid to tell the truth about all of your lifestyle habits, medical history, and medications. Withholding this information could result in death, but sharing the information could help your provider find the missing piece of the puzzle. It also saves time because it prevents canceled surgeries, drug interactions, and confusing labwork results.

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Above All Else, Show Up

Dr. David Shapiro, an orthopedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, says his team once met with a patient over telehealth who was in a fast-food drive-thru. This is unprofessional and can cause issues with your doctor being able to hear and understand you. When you show up to your appointment, be ready to ask questions, answer questions, and pay full attention to your appointment.

These days, online healthcare is not just for young people or tech-savvy patients. Dr. Shapiro says that his team hasn’t found any age limitations to telemedicine. Telehealth is reducing barriers to medical care and healthcare access, and it’s easier to check-in and be seen by the doctor than you’d think.

Have you had a telehealth appointment? Were there any technical issues? Did your appointment go well or did you feel disconnected from your provider? Let us know in the comments below!

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