House calls have been a thing of the past for many decades, but doctors have been adapting their practice to the digital age, which oddly enough brings new meaning to the term. Telemedicine and teletherapy are still new and upcoming, but this step-by-step senior guide will help new users know how to prepare for their first virtual visit.
In the times of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, doctor’s offices have had to shift their process. Telemedicine has helped many offices and can help seniors remain up-to-date with their screenings and regular appointments, depending on the objective of the visit. For those who are intimidated by the idea of a virtual visit, we hope these tips provide ease and shed light on the opportunity to receive care right at home.
1. Make Sure Your Technology is Ready
This step is the most important of them all. Telemedicine will only work well if the patient has the proper technology to run an appointment. A reliable internet connection, smartphone, computer, or tablet are as necessary to carry out an online appointment as transportation is to get to the physical doctor’s office.
2. Double-Check Your Insurance
The second most important step is to check with your insurance on their telemedicine policy. Not every private insurer will cover visits of this type or will vary by plan. State regulations differ as well, so it’s smart to make sure you know your coverage beforehand.
3. Schedule an Appointment as Usual
This step is simple. Like any other doctor’s appointment, call the actual office or visit an online portal, whatever you typically use. An online portal allows for 24/7 access to scheduling, and may even be available on a mobile app as well.
After calling the office, they will have you download an app, or they will email you a link that you will click on ten minutes before your appointment to join the virtual visit.
Before your online appointment, the office will also either ask for a verbal agreement or require a consent form to be signed in order to comply with HIPAA regulations.
4. Make Note of Your Symptoms
On many mobile apps, it will prompt you to check off or note any symptoms, so be prepared to state detailed information on how you are feeling.
5. Follow Careful Security and Privacy Measures
You can ask your medical provider about how you can best protect your privacy. Any login information for medical resources should be as carefully kept as what you use for financial use. Common platforms that are being used for telemedicine by providers are Zoom, Apple Facetime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts, or Skype. Providers will notify you of any security risks, and you can always suggest to them a specific platform you prefer to use.
6. Set Time Aside for a Wait
Like any waiting room (minus the old magazines), in telemedicine, there will likely be a bit of a waiting period after clicking on the link to join the virtual visit. You will see your doctor or medical provider appear on the screen as soon as they are available. .
7. Check Video Capabilities
The need for video is essential if the doctor needs to examine movement, body language, or conditions. Some doctors may ask for a photo upload of skin rashes and other ailments.
8. Prescriptions and In-Person Visits
Telemedicine is a great tool in times when it’s harder to get to the office, but it does not fully replace the need for an in-person visit, depending on the severity of the situation. A strep test, x-ray, or blood draw will provide information that they cannot get over a call. However, a virtual visit can assist with getting prescriptions filled, as the doctor can easily call up the pharmacy as needed.
Telemedicine: The Future
While in-person visits can never fully go away, telemedicine allows for convenience, systematic management of chronic and ongoing conditions, and efficiency. Reducing the time and cost of getting to the doctor’s office is something else it offers.
Technology bridges gaps in communication, distance, and services. In the ever-changing landscape of society, we will see it move into aspects of life we never thought possible. The doctors from the house call days would have never imagined the possibility of telemedicine, but it continues to grow and may become more common over time. By familiarizing yourself with the usual process of setting up an online doctor’s appointment, you’ll hopefully feel less anxious in doing so.
Like telemedicine, our virtual community tours are available for scheduling, as we adhere to CDC social distancing guidelines and not accepting on-site visits at this time. Contact us today if you would like to schedule a virtual tour of our beautiful community!