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Preparing for a remote appointment

Woman with psoriasis writing at desk by window

This content reflects the views of the individual blogger and is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.

The COVID-19 pandemic and on-going restrictions means there have been many changes to the way that we do things. From going to work to eating out, our lives have changed in the past 15 months. One thing that has changed the most for me is attending doctors’ appointments. Many have moved online or remotely in order to keep us all safe during the pandemic.

As we adjust to our ‘new normal’, I wanted to share some tips and tricks I have found helpful when preparing for my own remote doctors’ appointments.

Put it in your diary!

This may sound like a simple one, but I find that it is easier to forget a digital appointment rather than an in-person one.

I always write down my appointment date and time, adding it to my calendar and in my phone so I don’t forget. The last thing I want is to miss an appointment, especially as I haven’t been seen by my specialist for longer than usual due to the pandemic!

Don’t be afraid of the light!

If I am doing a video call with my doctor, I like to make sure I am in a bright and well-lit place. This means my doctor can easily see my skin and any issues I am pointing out. I usually like to find a quiet, well-lit part of my home (usually my bedroom) so I can have privacy during the appointment with no family members around to interrupt unintendedly or overhear sensitive conversations.

Test your tech

There is nothing worse than waiting so long for an appointment, only for your signal to cut out half way through or only hear every second word due to a dodgy connection. Make sure that where you chose in your house has good access to the internet or phone signal. This can take away any stress of having to frantically re-connect or missing important information during the appointment.

Different doctor practices or hospitals may use different systems. I like to ensure that I log on at least five minutes before my appointment to ensure that everything is working properly and that I have all of the information I need.Some systems may allow you to practice logging on or joining the waiting room beforehand, which can be helpful if you are feeling particularly nervous about your appointment.

Make sure that your sound is switched on, your microphone is working and that your full face can be seen clearly on the screen. This will help ensure that the appointment starts efficiently. 

Take pictures and send them in advance if possible

Before my remote appointment I asked if I could send some pictures to my doctor to show updates of my skin since my last appointment. I was able to do this and by doing so my doctor could see the progression in my skin. This saved time during the appointment talking about this in great depth and we were able to cover it more quickly.

When booking an appointment, ask if you can do this for your doctor or if you have received a letter, phone and ask if you can supply these ahead of time. When you do ask, make sure to take note of any relevant information you may need to include in the email such as doctors name, date of appointment or hospital/surgery number. This information may be different per hospital/surgery so it is always good to ask.

The worst thing they can say is that they don’t have this set up yet and you can save the pictures to show the doctor during the appointment or the next time you see them face-to-face.

Make a list of questions you want to ask

Do you ever leave an appointment and say ‘oh I wish I had asked that’ or ‘oops, I meant to get an answer to this question’? Then make sure you write down all the questions you have before your appointment and tick them off as you ask them during the appointment.

I have a notebook specially dedicated to all of my questions for my doctor or dermatologist. I write them down whenever they come to me. If I don’t have my notebook on me, I make a note in the notes app on my phone so I don’t forget. This allows me to always ask questions I would like answers to and leave my appointments feeling satisfied!

Make notes

Relating to the point above, as well as writing questions that you want to ask during your appointment, don’t be afraid to take a note of the answers or anything you want to go away and research afterwards.

I do this often as I find that short appointments can be overwhelming with information at the time as you are trying to get through so much. Plus, I like to go away and look into things more. I normally ask my doctor to explain or spell certain words to ensure that I look up the right things.

As we get used to the new way of attending appointments, hopefully these helpful tips will prepare you for your first or next remote appointment!

Jude

MAT-47642 June 2021. Article developed in partnership with LEO Pharma.

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