After a year of living through a pandemic, it is very likely that you have experienced a visit with a health care professional over the phone or through video conferencing. When possible, virtual visits with physicians, specialized care providers or clinicians can be a safe and reliable way to connect to your health team, support physical distancing requirements and eliminate longstanding issues like parking costs, travel time and lost work hours.
While many health care providers, patients and clients are excited about virtual care’s potential, there are still challenges that can come with this new care model. We know that virtual care works best when you’re prepared, so here are some tips to help you or a loved one maximize your next virtual appointment:
Before Your Visit:
- Test the tech. Many health care providers prefer to use phone visits when a physical consultation isn’t required. If you have a scheduled video conference, download any required apps or software beforehand. Consider arranging a trial call with the office, a family member or a friend to familiarize yourself the program and to test your camera, speakers and internet connection. If your video visit is linked to a patient/client portal, make sure that your login information is correct and stored in a safe but accessible place.
- Plan your space. Pick a quiet, private and comfortable location—with good lighting if you’re preparing for a video call. Consider using headphones for better sound quality, to reduce background noise or for privacy if you live in a shared space. If you expect that your visit will involve a physical assessment, of your movement or gait for example, ensure that your whole body can be seen on camera and remove any tripping hazards like loose rugs or cords.
- Get organized. Take time before your visit to prepare any questions or concerns that you have for your health care provider to make sure that everything is covered. Depending on the type of visit, you may need a current medication list, your health card number, pharmacy details or other health information like blood pressure readings, glucose levels, or your current weight. Make sure that whatever device you are using is fully charged or plugged in to prevent a sudden loss of power.
- Find a support person. It may be beneficial—or in some cases essential—to have someone join in on your video visit or phone call. They can help you troubleshoot technical issues, remember what was discussed during the appointment or support you through any hearing or vision difficulties. Caregivers can often be added to the call or conference securely, even if they aren’t in the same location. Just make sure you touch base with your care provider before the call to make this happen.
During the Appointment:
- Be patient. Just like in-person visits, your health care provider may not be available at your exact appointment time. Be ready ten minutes before and don’t book anything immediately after in case things run behind. Make sure that you answer any phone calls from an unknown or blocked number and try to stay as calm as possible through technical difficulties, remembering that this is a new process for everyone.
- Ask questions. If you don’t understand something or there are changes to your care plan or medication, don’t hesitate to back track, slow things down and ask for clarification. Always have a pen and paper ready so you can make notes during the call and to check off your questions and concerns as they are covered. If at any point during the visit you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or unwell, you can end the session immediately.
- Use your aids. If you have any hearing, vision or mobility challenges, make sure that your hearing aids, glasses or other accessibility devices are used as required throughout your visit.
VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) offers many of our services virtually over the telephone or by video either with a smartphone, tablet or computer. In many situations and depending on the needs and preferences of each client and family, VHA Virtual Care can be used in combination with in-person visits. VHA also have volunteer virtual care coaching available to help clients and families feel more comfortable connecting virtually.
To learn if virtual care is right for you, please read our Frequently Asked Questions or have a conversation with your service provider.