One of the positive things that has emerged during this pandemic is increased access to medical providers via technology. Technology can be intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, opportunities open-up.
Several of my clients have taken advantage of telehealth or telemedicine in recent weeks. Here is how it worked for us.
1. We called the provider and requested the appointment. My client did not want to risk the exposure of going into the medical clinic, so we requested a telehealth appointment.
2. We were given a time and asked what number they should send a link to for us to connect to the physician. Most providers use a platform that requires a smartphone/device so you can connect.
3. We got together about 15 minutes prior to the appointment, ensured the phone was charged, got paper and pen for notes and created a few bullet point questions we wanted to be sure to ask.
4. Our appointment was for 9:00 am. At about 9:10 am a text came through with a link to click on. We followed the steps (they were simple), and the physician appeared on the phone. We could see him, and he could see us.
5. We reviewed current medications, vitals that had been tracked at home, recent concerns and created a plan of action.
Telemedicine has a lot to offer. Yes, there are some limitations too, but in many scenarios, it can accomplish the same results as an in-person visit. This is especially true for well or routine visits. Labs, tests and medications can still be ordered, and results discussed. It is helpful if you keep a journal of data that might be useful to the physician. This might include weight, diet, blood pressure, any symptoms or side effects you might experience.
On-line personal portals are another valuable piece to telehealth. Almost all medical providers and hospitals now offer on-line patient portals. You will need an email to set one up and a computer or tablet. These allow you access to your medical record, visit notes, test results and allow direct communication between you and your provider. This is often the fastest and most effective way to communicate.
If you do not have the technology needed or are just intimidated by it, I would suggest finding a trusted family member or professional who can help you set everything up and gain a comfort level using it. For those who are skeptical about security or having personal information on-line, remember that a great deal of it is already there, you are simply setting up the access to it.
While technology cannot take the place of a good old fashion sit down with your favorite doctor, it can certainly be a valuable tool that provides new opportunities and increased access to health care providers.
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