Making the Most of Your Telehealth Appointment for Your Chronic Illness

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The year has been — and still is — relentlessly difficult for the healthcare sector to say the least. While the pandemic drags on, accessing even basic health services continues to be a challenge with many considering the safety of visiting a healthcare facility. This has resulted in more people turning to obtain medical attention remotely through telehealth.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is simply healthcare that can be provided through telecommunications technology. Instead of visiting a physician’s clinic, you set up a virtual appointment for a consultation.

Mariea Snell, an assistant professor at Maryville University’s masters in nursing program, explained that telehealth is revolutionizing modern healthcare which now operates like a business. In an effort to minimize costs, clinical institutions are more focused on providing outpatient care— telehealth is a development that can further reduce healthcare spending. Snell’s article on HealthTech Magazine explained that it is practical and inexpensive for both the patient and the provider, especially now that the infrastructure is growing. It also expands access to medical care for people who can’t otherwise obtain these services. Stay-at-home orders, for example, restrict people from getting proper medical attention and telehealth can provide a necessary solution.

Snell also explained that telehealth can help patients receive more specialized care. This applies to invisible illnesses like chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or adrenal fatigue. A previous post here on Quit Chronic Fatigue highlighted how doctors struggle to diagnose CFS, let alone prescribe effective medication. Instead of traveling far to consult with doctors who can provide answers, a person struggling with CFS can get much-needed help remotely. Telehealth can also help overcome the stigma of living with invisible illnesses given its remote and more confidential setting.

How to prepare for a telehealth appointment:

Preparing for a telehealth appointment is very much like preparing for an in-patient visit. But keep in mind that there are a few more tasks that you need to do to make the most out of your virtual consultation:

“Come” prepared

As with any health service, you need to be ready with a list of things you want to cover during your visit. Write down notes and questions you might have beforehand to maximize your time. This is because telehealth consultations are more rigid with time slots. Jot down any symptoms you’ve had over the past few weeks and note if you’ve been feeling more tired than usual, having more frequent headaches, or inability to concentrate. Similarly, write down important details you can get from your session especially when it comes to follow-up care.

Being ready also means having your medical history nearby, as well as lab tests and other relevant information. Depending on the scope of your appointment, you might also need specific medical tools. Vox notes that blood pressure cuffs play a role in virtual healthcare appointments. Even health data from your smart watch can be used to provide a more accurate picture of your current condition. This is something that you need to clarify with the clinic before the day of your appointment.

Fix your setup

Because of its virtual nature, having the right setup is key. First of all, you need to find a stable Wi-Fi to avoid getting disrupted or disconnected midway. Your physical space also matters. The Verge recommends using headphones to tone down background noise and choosing a spot with ample lighting. Keep your distractions to a minimum, make sure your face is visible, and your voice can be heard clearly on the other line. If possible, do a test run of your set-up before the actual visit. More importantly, choose a spot that’s private so you can be more open and honest with your physician.

Be patient

This new normal is a huge adjustment for everyone, so try to be patient and understanding in case something doesn’t go according to plan. Like you, your physician is also learning how to navigate telemedicine. You can make things easier by being prepared and having the right setup. If necessary, you might have to come in for an in-person visit so it’s best to be prepared for it.

Exclusively written for by Adele Barker.

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