June 01, 2020

Tips for telehealth

Optimize your virtual visit

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted your life in many ways — including your doctor's office asking if you would want to change your upcoming appointment to a telephone or video visit.

Although you were initially annoyed — and the video setup stretched your technological confidence — you actually found the visit quite pleasant. You and your doctor could see each other and converse freely. You talked about everything that was on your list of concerns, and your doctor felt satisfied that her concerns were addressed. Plus, there was no need to drive into town, pay for parking and sit in a waiting room with others — and once you logged out, you were on with your day.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telephone and video doctor visits have leapt onto the health care scene at accelerated speed. So have virtual checks, which involve your health care provider looking at or responding to messages, concerns or images from you, but not involving real-time interaction. There's a fair chance that many of these types of virtual visits with your health care provider are, in large part, here to stay.

Telephone and video visits have their limitations and aren't appropriate for all health needs. They will never fully replace the need for in-person care. Critically, they are not a substitute for in-person care if you have severe symptoms or need aggressive medical intervention as may occur during a medical emergency, such as if you are experiencing signs and symptoms of a heart attack or respiratory failure.

However, for...