Preparing for a Virtual Visit with Your Doctor
Last updated: May 2020
Visiting your doctor online is a great way to get healthcare if you are not able to go in person. You can get medical advice, visual assessments, treatments, or update your doctor about a long-term issue. This can happen over a video chat, phone call, email, or text. However it happens, a virtual visit lets you get care from the comfort of your own home without having to travel.
If virtual care is new to you and your doctor, you may need to prepare yourself. Knowing what to expect and what to have with you will make your first virtual visit go more smoothly. It will also help you get the most out of the call.
Scheduling a healthcare video chat
Check with your doctor’s office first to see what options are available. They can tell you if a video chat appointment is appropriate for the service you need. They can also explain which video conference service they use and how you can get and use it. This may include:
- What devices you need for video calling
- How to download and start using the program
- How to use any features of the program
- How to schedule and start video chat appointments
- How long video chats usually last
Many healthcare professionals now include video calls in their services. But if your doctor or therapist does not, there are other options. One example is Doctor on Demand. This is an online service available 24/7. You can use it to connect to doctors for many services. You can then visit them over live video through an internet browser or app.1
What you need to video chat with your doctor
You will need a device that can access an internet connection. This could be a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Most of these devices have great built-in cameras, microphones, and speakers. But if you need to, you can connect external webcams, headsets, earbuds, or speakers.
During the visit, your doctor will ask you about symptoms, allergies, and any drugs and supplements you take. Make sure you have this information ready, including the contact information for your pharmacy. If this is a doctor you see regularly, they may already have this information and ask you to confirm if anything has changed.
If you have any medical equipment at home, move it close to you so you can access it easily during the visit. Examples include a thermometer, personal EKG monitor, asthma inhaler, blood pressure machine, or a peak flow meter.
Here are some additional things you may want to have with you:
- Doctor’s office phone number, in case you have problems connecting to the chat
- List of questions you have for your doctor
- Paper and pen for taking notes1
Preparing for a video chat with your doctor
You may want to prepare for a video chat the day before so you can make your visit more comfortable and successful. Here are a few tips:
- Find a quiet, private place away from distractions
- Make sure the room is well-lit (but avoid bright lights behind your head)
- Test your microphone and camera by video chatting with a friend or family member
- If you are using wireless internet, sit near the internet source
- If possible, consider using an ethernet cable to plug directly into the internet
- Close unnecessary programs running in the background
- Make sure the device you will be using is charged or plugged in2,3
Now you are all set up and you can start your video chat! Usually, your doctor or therapist will email or text you a link that you click to join your doctor. Sometimes a password will be included.
Once you join the call, your visit will be very similar to an in-person office visit. At the end, you will discuss next steps, such as whether you need a follow-up visit. You can always ask your doctor questions during the meeting or call them later.
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