How to Prepare for a Telemedicine Visit

patient on sofa with ipad talking to doctor online

With the COVID-19 pandemic now well settled in our lives, there has been a rapid and dramatic shift from in-person medical care to telemedicine. Both physicians and patients have had to adapt to telemedicine visits quickly in order to ensure uninterrupted medical care.

A virtual or telemedicine visit with your doctor can be as beneficial as an in-office appointment in some instances. These visits are most often used for non-urgent medical issues or for follow-up appointments but can sometimes be valuable for an initial consultation as well. If you are experiencing a significant medical issue you should go to an emergency room.

There are preparations you can take that optimize your conditions, technology, and surroundings in order to have a productive virtual visit.

patient taking notes on note pad

Your condition:

  • As with an in-office visit, be prepared to answer questions about your personal medical history, family history, home environment, lifestyle, and social history.
  • Make a list of your current symptoms, when they started, their severity, and anything that makes them better or worse.
  • Create a detailed medication list including the names of the medications you are taking, how they are taken, the dose and how often or what time of day they are taken.
  • Have your relevant personal health data such as temperature, blood pressure, pulse, blood glucose levels, etc. available (or already transmitted to the doctor’s office if possible).
  • If you use diabetes technology such as a continuous glucose monitor and/or insulin pump, upload your data to your physician’s portal or secure website well in advance of your visit, to allow for review. If this is not possible, have all settings and information available at the time of the virtual visit.
  • Use your phone to take a picture of anything pertinent such as a cut or rash. Email that picture before the visit begins.
  • List any chronic conditions you have and any surgeries you have undergone.
  • Are others in your home sick? If so, with what symptoms and for how long?
  • If you have been tested for COVID-19, have your results at hand.

stack of mobile devices next to laptop and tablet

Your technology:

  • Determine what device you are using (phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer) and that it is in good working order, is fully charged or plugged in, and that you have a reliable connection whether Wi-Fi (preferred), cellular, or direct phone line.
  • If this is to be a virtual and visually supported visit, be sure your device has a camera and microphone in good condition.
  • Know how you are going to connect: Call a phone number? Click on a link? Sign into an online portal through a website or app?
  • Be able to provide another source (phone, etc.) in case it gets disconnected or an emergency occurs.

quiet room with desk chair window

Your surroundings:

  • Make sure you have a comfortable, quiet, private place to sit for the visit and that your camera can give a clear view of you. Be sure you are not too far from your device, though. It may make it more difficult for your healthcare professional to hear you.
  • Have sufficient light in the area where you are seated. Do not sit with a window behind you as backlight will adversely affect how clear you look on camera. It is best to have a blank wall behind you with a light source in front of you.
  • Make sure everyone in your home knows to be quiet and not interrupt your visit.
  • Have a pad and pen/pencil ready to take notes during your visit. You should write down any questions you have ahead of time and have them ready.
  • Silence all of your other devices (phone, etc.) so that it doesn’t disturb you during the visit.