Hear from a Doctor: How to Prepare for a Telehealth Visit

Hear from a Doctor: How to Prepare for a Telehealth Visit

By Dr. Yalden

Have you seen your physician — or a physician — virtually yet?  

In February 2020, as COVID-19 began to spread and surge across the United States, the CDC advised physicians and the public to engage in social distancing and seek care virtually via telehealth when needed. Since March 2020, the use of telehealth has risen by over 50% compared to that same time period in March 2019, and it continues to rise. 

My history with telehealth 

I am a board-certified family medicine physician and have been seeing patients online with Amwell since November 2013. I began my work as a telehealth physician when thinking of ways to best start a family while continuing my love and practice of family medicine.  

Seeing patients online has been a game changer, even before the pandemic, for both patients and physicians. Early adopters — people who warmed up to telehealth years ago— enjoy the convenience of being cared for 24/7/365 from anywhere private with an internet connection. Telehealth has helped patients, families, and physicians stay safe during COVID by keeping those in-person care available for when it’s most needed. 

What is it like to see a physician online? 

It's just like seeing a physician in the office, except that you are separated by the computer screen. We can evaluate you virtually with your help. Together, we will collect the information we need by reviewing your medical history, talking about your symptoms, and doing a virtual physical exam. Together, we will also come up with our treatment and follow-up plan. 

We will do as much as we can to evaluate and treat you safely online. If we are not able to manage your concerns safely online, we may need to refer you for in-person evaluation and care.  

Here are some tips to help prepare you for your telehealth visit: 

Medical history: This is your personal health journal containing all your health information, including dates of exams and procedures. If you don't have one, your physician will write one for you during your consultation, and it will become part of your permanent EHR (electronic health record). Below is a list of topics your physician will wish to discuss while taking your medical history:  

  • Allergies/sensitivities for all medications, foods, and environments, as well as your reactions to them  
  • Medications, including the names and doses of all your medications and supplements. It may be easiest to just have your bottles and tubes handy during your telehealth visit. 
  • Medical history: A list of all your medical issues, past and present 
  • Family history: A list of your parents and siblings and any health issues they may have 
  • Surgical history: All surgeries, including menstrual, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding history 
  • Social history: Alcohol, tobacco/vaping, drug use 
  • Immunization history including COVID-19, flu, tetanus, etc. with dates for each 
  • Work and travel history: Your employer, what you do for a living, where you’ve travelled, etc. 
  • Pictures: Please upload images to your EHR if this is something you wish your physician to review. 
  • Labs/medical records: Please upload to your EHR if this is something you wish your physician to review. 
  • Most recent information: If you have diabetes and check your blood sugars, please have your finger-stick and most recent HgA1c information available. 

Questions: This is your telehealth visit and we want to be sure we have answered all your questions. It’s helpful to prepare a list of your questions in advance. Also, have a pen and paper handy so you can write down any important information, questions, concerns, and follow-up instructions. 

Your pharmacy information: Please have this available, including a 24-hour pharmacy if you need an after-hours prescription immediately (on nights, weekends, holidays). 

Your current concern/reason for the consult. Your physician will ask you questions such as:  

  • What are your symptoms? 
  • When did your symptoms begin and are they new or recurrent? 
  • Where on your body are you experiencing pain or distress? 
  • Why are you having symptoms? (For example, do you usually get heartburn when you eat spicy food?) 

Virtual physical exam: Please dress appropriately and make sure your lighting, camera, and surroundings can accommodate a virtual exam. For example, if you have a rash on your thigh, please wear shorts. If your ankle hurts, please be prepared to try to stand and try to take a few steps while we observe.  

Your location and connection: Please be sure you are connecting from a safe, private place with good internet connection. 

  • If you’re calling from your car, please be sure to safely park before connecting. 
  • If you choose “please have privacy,” your physician will ask if you have privacy.  
  • If you choose to have others present during your visit, your physician will ask for your permission to discuss your personal and confidential health information with them. 

Your time: Please have 10-15 minutes available for your consultation.  

What are you waiting for? Your family doctor is online! 

At Amwell, we're here and looking forward to connecting with you to help you and your family with your healthcare concerns — anytime, anywhere.  

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