How to Get the Most Out of Your Telehealth Visit


Getting ready for your first telehealth appointment? Follow these tips to make sure it’s a smooth, successful experience.

Over the past couple of months, telehealth has become the new norm for healthcare in the Valley and beyond. Here at Valleywise Health, we’ve already seen over 15,000 patients virtually, and are looking forward to caring for many more families in the coming months. We accept both new and current patients for telehealth appointments.

So what is telehealth, and why are so many people choosing this route for their doctor’s appointments?

A telehealth appointment is simply a regular doctor’s appointment done over the phone or over a video call. When you check in for your appointment, you will connect with your doctor over a safe, private call and discuss your questions and concerns. Your doctor can then make suggestions and even prescribe medication over the call.

Virtual appointments have many benefits – they can be done from the comfort and privacy of home, they don’t require any transportation, and they reduce exposure to viruses like COVID-19. However, the process of seeing your doctor over the phone or video can take some getting used to.

But how does telehealth work, and how can you prepare yourself for your next appointment? Here are our top tips for getting the most out of your telehealth visits:

1. Work with your doctor to figure out which appointment type is best for you

When you call to make your appointment, your doctor and their staff will work with you to decide which kind of appointment will best fit your needs, whether that’s video, phone, or even an in-person visit.

Your doctor will make a recommendation based on the reason for your visit. If you have a chronic condition or will require some sort of test that can only be done in-person, your doctor may suggest making an in-person appointment. There may be some parts of the appointment that can be taken care of ahead of time through a telehealth appointment.

However, many other appointments can be taken care of over the phone or over a video call.

If you have any questions about what to expect from your appointment or how you can prepare, you can ask them when you call to make your appointment. If you’ll need an interpreter during your appointment, don’t worry – Valleywise will work to provide one for you, and your doctor will explain how they will virtually join your appointment.

2. Make sure your phone and/or computer are equipped to take the call

Your telehealth appointment will take place over the web; there’s no need to install any additional apps. However, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong enough wifi or data connection, so your call won’t cut out in the middle of your appointment.

If you don’t have wifi, or if your wifi connection is weak, don’t worry – most patients don’t have a problem running their appointments on cellular data, such as LTE or 4G.

It’s recommended to update your browser and computer before logging in for your appointment. This will ensure your computer (or phone) will run as quickly as possible.

3. Choose a private, quiet room for your appointment, and make sure you have everything you need

Make sure you take your appointment in a place that’s quiet and private. Your doctor will also be taking your call from a private room, so all of your information will be safe.

If you’re doing a video appointment, make sure you have good lighting. This is especially important if your doctor asks to take a look at a part of your body that may be bothering you – for example, if your eye is red, if you have an unusual rash on your arm, or if you have any visible inflammation.

Be sure to have all your current medication with you, as your doctor may ask to see what you’re taking and how much of it you have left.

4. Be prepared to provide your doctor with information they may need to give you a diagnosis

Since your doctor won’t be in the room with you to give you any sort of physical exam, they may ask to take a look at things over video/photo or request that you do certain movements or tests on your own that may help them diagnose your issue.

For example, if you’re having unusual abdominal pain, your doctor may ask you to press on different parts of your stomach/chest to see if anything hurts or feels swollen. Based on this information, they will be able to better understand your condition and how they can help.

Your doctor may also ask to take a look at something over photo or video. For example, if you have a rash on your arm, you may need to take a photo and securely send it to your doctor using your MyChart app (if you’re a new patient, you will receive a MyChart account before your appointment). Everything you send to your doctor will be securely protected.

Ready to schedule your telehealth appointment? You can give us a call anytime between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday. Call 1-888-VLLYWSE or visit ValleywiseHealth.org.

About the Author

Anthony Dunnigan, MD, MBI, FAMIA - Internal Medicine

Anthony Dunnigan is currently VP and Chief Medical Information Officer of Valleywise Health. He is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, an Adjunct Faculty member of the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University, and an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at Creighton University. Dr. Dunnigan continues to practice Internal Medicine at Valleywise Comprehensive Health Center—Phoenix. He has a medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland and was a proud Public Health Service Officer for 17 years. He has a master’s in biomedical informatics from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, and is double-boarded in Clinical Informatics and Internal Medicine.

Read more posts by Anthony Dunnigan, MD, MBI, FAMIA  Browse all topics

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