How to Prepare for a Routine Telehealth Visit

Thank you, ATAP’s Kim Moccia and AT3 Center’s Amy Goldman for these tips for a successful remote doctor’s visit during social distancing.
Image by annca from Pixabay We’re all talking a lot about how to avoid contracting COVID-19. Yet it seems like we’re talking very little about how to keep up with routine medical care. What we know, however, is that before the new coronavirus, people still went to the doctor!  
In order to practice social distancing and stay safe, many medical practices are conducting routine care via “ telehealth .” Telehealth is the use of communications technology to provide medical care and monitoring and often includes real-time live video conferencing.
For many of us, telehealth is a new experience. Here are tips to consider for making your virtual telehealth visit successful:
Prior to Your Appointment
Register for access

If your health care provider is part of a health system with an electronic records portal, register for access. Remember to keep your password in a safe place!

Prepare your communications technology

Find out what kind of technology will be used to conduct the visit and make sure you have it available. If your healthcare provider wants to use videoconferencing, but you don’t have a smartphone or a webcam on your computer, let them know you can only use (or that you prefer to use) the telephone.
If there’s an app used for the telehealth visit, be sure to install it on the smartphone, tablet, or laptop you will use. Ask for written instructions for installing and using the app.  Consider asking for a test run to practice using the app with your health provider’s office.   If there will be a third party, make sure they have the app, as well.

Consider purchasing or making a stand or holder for the phone or tablet, especially if the visit may take more than just a few minutes. It is challenging to talk, hold the phone steady (e.g. for video), concentrate, and take notes at the same time.
Make sure your telecommunications device is charged or connected to a power source, so you won’t lose your connection in the middle of your visit.

Prepare your environment

Prepare your location for the time of your appointment so you won’t have distractions (from children or pets, for example) and excess noise.

Test your audio

Make sure you can hear well (e.g. via the phone, laptop, or tablet audio), as important information will be transmitted.
If you usually have difficulty hearing over the phone, you may want to explore ways to improve the telephone experience (e.g. through an amplified or captioned phone). Your state Assistive Technology Act program can help you explore these options.

Prepare your assistive technology

If you already use assistive technology for telecommunications, have it handy and “ready to go” for the...