Like many of you, I am most accustomed to talking on the telephone with friends, family, and telemarketers.  I call my doctor’s/dentist’s office to make appointments.

I purchased my first cellular phone in 2001 as I travelled a lot with my job and saw the cell phone as a safety device although there were still many areas without service.   I still had my home phone and it had evolved to a hands free model; I was no longer limited to move only within the length of the phone cord.   I cancelled my home phone in 2010 as I was away more than home and decided to be more prudent with my expenses.

So now, I Facetime with my grandchildren, attend Zoom Meetings, shop online via my device and am always “available” with text messages, email, and phone calls.  

We are now making appointments with our health care professionals online as well as by phone.  More importantly, we now attend our appointments online – with video connections, or a phone call.   Either way, our preparation for this appointment needs to change.

You might have a chronic illness which requires regular check ups or perhaps you have an unexpected, sudden illness.   You know you need to schedule a visit to your healthcare provider. Here are a few steps you can follow to make this an efficient process.

Book the appointment:

  • Have your calendar handy to see your availability and to record your appointment date and time.
  • Phone your healthcare provider’s office – identify yourself and the issues you are experiencing
    • Ask if you can see your physician in person or
    • Is your physician assessing patients using Telehealth?  
    • If they are conducting Telehealth appointments – will it be by a phone call or is there a video option
  • Can you participate in a video appointment or do you need a phone appointment?  This is determined by your devices.
    • Do you have a laptop or desktop computer with a camera, I Pad /Tablet or do you have a smartphone with a camera?               
    • Do you have a regular telephone and need a phone appointment?  Tell the medical office assistant so the physician can organize a telephone appointment.

Prepare for the actual appointment:

  • Did the Doctor’s office confirm the appointment and advise you of any tests you need before the appointment such as laboratory work? If so – have you completed it?
  • Write out the symptoms and concerns you are experiencing that you are going to discuss with the doctor. Have your pen and this paper ready for your appointment.
  • An hour before your appointment time – gather all the medications you are taking so you can discuss them if your doctor asks about your medications. It is important to tell the doctor if you are changing the amount of the medication or time you take your medication. Also let your physician know of any over the counter medication you are taking such as Vitamins, laxatives, eye drops, pain medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
  • Prepare a quiet place for you to sit during your appointment.  If you are having a video appointment, be sure your device – smartphone, tablet or laptop/computer is fully charged, and your internet is working. Check the camera, audio, and microphone to be sure you can hear and be heard and seen.
  • You can have a trusted friend, family person or care giver with you during your appointment.  If you do, this person can take notes and ensure you ask all your questions.  If this person cannot be in the same room with you, he/she may be able to join you by sharing the link provided by the physician.

Appointment is now:

  • Just to be safe, ensure your device/phone are ready and working. If you have a video scheduled, the physician’s office will have emailed you a “Test Your Connection” link to help you test the link and your device.
  • Five minutes before your scheduled call, click on the link in the email sent by your doctor’s office. You may see a window pop up in your browser that asks for permission to share your camera. Be sure to accept/allow or your doctor won’t be able to see you.
  • When you first sign in, you might not see your doctor on your screen when you “arrive” for your appointment. This is like the office waiting room; the doctor might be with another patient. In some cases, you may even see an administrator or assistant before your doctor arrives.
  • If you have a telephone appointment scheduled – the office will have given you a 30-minute window to be available for the call.  Again, if someone else calls – be sure to tell them you cannot talk as you are busy; you want your phone line free for your appointment call.

These appointments are valuable and an efficient way to talk with your physician and plan any treatment needed.  The better prepared you are for the appointment the more the physician is informed of your health needs. Combined with any lab test results, the physician can determine the next step for you to take regarding treatment.  Your physician may have you schedule an in – person assessment as follow up.

So, pick a comfortable spot, read your own magazine, and don’t worry about catching anything in the “virtual waiting room” while you wait to see or talk to your doctor.

Till next time,