alt=two men on laptop screens in a telemedicine appointment

Making the Most of Your RA Telemedicine Appointments

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of healthcare as we know it. In the infancy of the pandemic, clinics and doctors’ offices were left to figure out a way to provide care and manage acute and chronic illness for their patients while social distancing. Telemedicine appointments quickly gained popularity and institutions scrambled to establish systems of their own.

Telehealth appointments have improved access to care, kept vulnerable populations safe, and limited the burden of patients seeking care in the hospital setting when our healthcare system was at its weakest.1 However, there are some definite downsides to receiving medical care virtually. With some simple tips and tricks, you can make the most of your telemedicine appointments with RA.

Tips for a successful telemedicine appointment

Getting the most of your telemedicine appointments can be tricky, especially when you are used to being seen in the office, face-to-face with your physicians. However, there are a few simple tricks you can follow to make sure virtual appointments meet your needs.

Remember to complete requested testing

It’s a good idea to make sure any routine testing is done prior to the appointment. Blood work, x-rays, etc. are much more helpful when your doctor can discuss the results with you in real time. Even if you aren’t aware of any upcoming testing, call your doctor’s office and ask if the doctor would like to do any routine testing prior to the appointment.

Write your questions down

It’s easy to be thrown off when attending your first telemedicine appointment. The technology and distractions of home life can make you forget any questions you might have. Write down any questions you may have prior to signing on in order to make the most of your appointment.

Know your vitals

Another way to help your doctor gather clinical data is to take a set of vitals yourself. Weight, blood pressure, and temperature are all good indicators of how healthy we are. Trending data like this can help doctors catch if something is different or off before it becomes a large issue.

Send pictures if needed

The obvious downside of telemedicine is the inability to have a face-to-face physical exam. If your physician is open to it, send pictures of physical changes such as swollen and red joints so they can have plenty of information to make a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Tips for clinicians

It’s not just patients who play an active role in making the most of a telemedicine appointment. Clinicians are also responsible for providing high quality care during the telemedicine appointment. These simple tips can help clinicians make their patients feel like they are getting the most out of a virtual appointment.

Have proper “webside” manner

Just as appropriate and empathetic bedside manners are important in a clinical setting, there’s also important practices to remember when it comes to telemedicine. Some examples include:2

  • Maintaining appropriate eye contact through the camera
  • Avoiding looking down at computer
  • Using an empathetic and friendly tone
  • Being prepared and ready to discuss result
  • Looking the part--dressing professionally and appropriately

Check your technology

There’s nothing more annoying than sound and camera issues in the middle of a patient opening up about their daily symptoms. Hash out all your technological issues before any telemedicine appoints to ensure they run smoothly. Check lighting, quiet background noises, and ensure your camera angle is correct before opening up the appointment. Tech competence goes a long way in building confidence in a provider.

Allow ample time for questions

Virtual appointments can be a bit disorienting at first. With all the change, it’s easy for patients to forget to ask questions or make comments. Encourage questions at various stages of the appointment and be open to answering them after the fact as well.

How do you make the best of your telemedicine appointments? How do you feel about telemedicine? Share your thoughts with us below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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