One of the challenging aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that social distancing and stay-at-home orders have made it more difficult to have a face-to-face meeting with your doctor.
For many physicians and patients, the remedy is increasingly telemedicine: the ability to remotely connect with a health care provider in real time, often over video, and sometimes via telephone, email, app or online patient portal.
While telemedicine isn't new — it's been deployed, for example, to connect rural patients with distant health care services or providers or to monitor ongoing conditions like diabetes — its use has spiked dramatically during the current crisis.
Telemedicine or telehealth — the terms are often used interchangeably — isn't a perfect solution for every wellness-related scenario. A medical emergency or a case too difficult to diagnose from afar still requires a visit to the doctor or hospital. “But to me this is going to be a very desirable thing for patients,” says Stephen Schloss, a urologist at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Massachusetts, whose office uses a telemedicine solution called doxy.me. “They love it. They didn't have to drive, they didn't have to park, they didn't have to go through all the hassle to go see a doctor."
The protocol for arranging telemedicine sessions varies by location, by practice specialty and by your ongoing history with a physician. Here are some common steps and tips to prepare for such a virtual visit.