Telemedicine is not a new concept, and more and more people are scheduling virtual doctor’s appointments in order to avoid unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. We are fortunate to live in a world where technology can help us stay home during a pandemic, but when you’re used to going to the doctor, you might be a bit apprehensive about virtual appointments. This post is meant to serve as a guide for what to expect when you schedule a virtual visit with your doctor.
- You’ll be asked to “check-in” early. Though your waiting room will be virtual and not physical, you will still need to check-in early so that the provider will know you have “arrived” for your appointment. The staff member you speak to when you make the appointment will provide you with details about how to check in and how early you’ll need to do so.
- Your provider will be able to see you. You’ll be in the comfort of your own home, but remember that you’ll be visible to your doctor, so make sure to wear something that you would be comfortable being seen in!
- The connection may not be perfect. Depending on where you live and the strength of your connection, the video and/or audio may skip or go in and out at times. If your doctor says something and you don’t hear it because of a skip (or any other reason), don’t feel too shy to ask him/her to repeat it! Our providers’ main priority is to make sure you get the information and care you need, so they will not mind if they have to repeat themselves every now and then. If your connection is poor enough that nothing seems to be getting through, you may need to call our office to find a solution.
“Telehealth is both an easy and safe way for us to keep up with how our patients are doing and make any adjustments to their treatment that may be needed.”
-Dr. Julian Hutchins, Primary Care Physician at Mercer Medicine
Here, Dr. Hutchins answers some questions you may have about telemedicine (virtual appointments):
Q: Will my doctor have all the same information going into my visit that he/she would for an in-person visit?
A: In a virtual appointment, we still have access to see all patient labs, medications, and vitals,* just like we normally would.
Q: What if I get sick with something that needs testing or screening?
A: While we can still see patients in person, a telemedicine visit can help determine whether a patient needs to be seen in person or their condition can be managed without venturing out.
[This helps ensure you only come to our facility if you NEED to.]
Q: Why not just wait to schedule routine appointments until the COVID-19 crisis is over?
A: Telemedicine is a critical way to keep up with your medical care during this crisis, but will also be a key tool going forward even after the corona virus crisis subsides.
[Not to mention, no one knows WHEN this crisis will end, so you really wouldn’t know how long you’d be putting off your doctor’s appointments.]
*Vitals are provided by the patient at the beginning of a telemedicine appointment, but most unknown information can be left off without issue.
There are a lot of unknowns right now, but your access to your doctor shouldn’t be one of them. You can count on Mercer Medicine to serve you (virtually and in-person) through whatever obstacles come our way. Stay safe and be well!